For their innovative discovery, Associate Professor Qiu Cheng Wei and his team from the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering have the humble chameleon to thank. The lizard has inspired the NUS Engineering team to develop the camouflage shell.
They have developed the world’s first innovative camouflage shell that hides both thermal and electronic sensors simultaneously and effectively, without compromising performance. The technologies that are available today to make sensors ‘invisible’ also make them ineffective, or they only allow the sensors to work in one specific environment – either thermal or electrical.
In numerous research experiments conducted over the past fourteen months, the NUS Engineering team has developed an ideal ‘invisible’ sensor by covering it with a thin shell made of pure copper, designed to significantly reduce the perturbation of heat flux and electric current simultaneously. The thickness of the shell is manufactured based on the detailed calculations to allow precise manipulation of external multi-physical fields to insulate the sensor. Hence, once the shell is wrapped around the sensor, the coated sensor becomes ‘invisible’ in both thermal and electric environments, and still continues to receive incoming signals from outside.
Explained Associate Professor Qiu, ”We have designed a camouflaging shell that not only mimics surrounding thermal fields, but also electric fields, both at the same time. The object under camouflage becomes truly invisible as its shape and position cannot be detected in terms of both thermal and electric images.
While remaining invisible, the object under camouflage can continue to probe the temperature and voltage in the environment that they are located.”