Perhaps this is a little much, but… that’s me!
I obviously love Wonder Woman, but have always be slightly skeptical of her invisible plane. Now through
magic science it is possible!
If you’ve ever studied any color theory, dye chemistry, physics, or photography you know a true black is hard to achieve. There two types of color (hang in with me here). First Subtractive color, the kind you used mixing finger paints, in which a combination of all pigments garners black (or a gross brown-ish).
There is also Additive color, the kind based on light waves, in which white is the combination of all colors and black is the absence of all color. We are able to see because our eyes recognize and process light (in various wave lengths that define color) as it reflects off of surfaces.
In order to get the ultimate black there needs to be NO light reflection or scatter. The goal is to absorb all light. How can that be done? If you’ve ever looked at those terrible High School Senior yearbook photos, where are the girls are wearing a velvet shawl/drape and pearls? (who’s idea was that?) Notice the darkest point in the image. The black drape, by far. This true black is generated because the velvet with it’s deep pile (long fiber fuzz) is absorbing the light into its texture rather than reflecting it, like off of a smoother surface. Now back to the stealth paint.
Nano tubes are structurally similar (when vertically aligned) to velvet; absorbing light, even infrared, and electronic signals too! With proper arrangement the tubes could prevent detection, by absorbing rather than reflecting signal. Spacing of the tubes and application of the paint would need to be tuned in order to the mimic the reflection/refraction of the surrounding air. Rendering it invisible to radar and other detection systems, as well as visual identification at night. (During the day the shape would be visible, like a black velvet plane in the sky. Perhaps Prince would be interested?)
The current challenges are production and application for the nano tubes. Scaling up the production of nano tubes is very challenging, as their growth parameters are highly specified and complex. Also, the means by which to suspend the tubes in the appropriate distribution while applying them over a large area is a formidable research question.
The project is under development by Dr. Guo and his team at the University of Michigan.
(shout out to Kelly for this post idea)