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Comment Re:NOT Invisibility Cloak: RADAR Cloak (Score 4, Insightful) 197

Sigh, here we go again! Radars and optical vision do not work in remotely the same way. Creating invisibility in the two different realms is a completely different problem.

In most vision situations there are two critical factors which don't occur in the great majority of radars. The first is illumination of the target from angles other than the viewing angle (OK, there are bistatic radars, but they are not common) and the other is a background which is illuminated. Try to think about this for just a few moments. Why can't we all make ourselves invisible just by wearing matt black clothing? Well, obviously because we will stand out against the background unless we happen to be standing in front of black wall or wandering around in a coal mine. The whole point of the fictional 'invisibility cloak' is that it works in all circumstances. We can already be invisible in certain carefully controlled environments, that after all is what camouflage is all about.

But, a radar is rather like wandering about in the above mentioned coal mine, or perhaps a dark forest with a miner's lamp fixed to your head. The background is basically black and the illumination comes from the viewing direction. In this scenario, someone dress entirely in black would be effectively invisible. And that is the key point to grasp. In the world or radar we can achieve invisibility simply by making sufficiently 'black' 'paint'. The weird ability of these meta-materials to allow the illumination to pass through the target un-disturbed is of no benefit. Since we don't have a receiver on the other side of the target to detect this energy it isn't relevant. Now, sure, we can all dream up complex bistatic radars which rely on the obscuration of the signal to detect the target, but I remain to be convinced that such a thing can be made sufficiently versatile to be useful.

Can I stress that I am not suggesting the these meta-materials don't have an application in the world of radar. They seem to me to be particularly useful where one wants to remove a fixed object which obscures the view of your radar. For example, consider a radar on a ship. It may well find that in some directions its view is obscured by other parts of the superstructure. If the could cover these other bits of the ship with meta-materials such that the radar pulses could pass 'through' and back again undisturbed, then our radar's field of view would be increased. Such an application would work perfectly well with even the relatively narrow band materials presented previously.

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