China steps up invisibility research

A concept model of a Chinese stealth fighter at a trade fair
Image caption Now you see me: Will future stealth fighters be 'invisible'?

Scientists in China are developing technology that can make objects "disappear", which could have obvious military applications, it's been reported.

Hong Kong newspaper South China Morning Post says that the government in Beijing has funded dozens of research teams in the past few years on projects that might make things invisible to the naked eye or electronic sensors. The technology could eventually be used in stealth aircraft, but scientists concede this could be decades away as the technology would require "super materials" that cannot currently be manufactured. Last month, a team from Zhejiang University released a video showing an array of glass panels it had built which rendered some fish and a cat invisible, the newspaper said.

Despite the expectations of a Harry Potter-like cloak, it's likely that by-products of this research will be developed first. South China Morning Post says that one such device from the Zhejiang University researchers will allow weapons and possibly troops to avoid detection by heat or infra-red sensors. China's not the only country researching invisibility. Last month, US physicists said they were investigating a new ultra-thin, electronic system designed to make an object transparent at all angles and over broad bandwidths.

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