It’s that time of year again: the air is warmer, the birds are chirping, the vernal equinox approaches, and there was a freak downpour that turned Healy Lawn into a marshland. It’s almost Spring. And you know what that means, my fellow science nerds: Spring fashion. Now, I can’t claim to know anything about fashion, but I know an awesome metalized fabric burqa when I see one. This week’s Simply Science: what happens when anti-drone technology meets apparel?
Due to the US government’s increased work on plans to expand its use of surveillance drones in domestic airspace, a man named Adam Harvey has produced a politically-charged line of clothing—Stealth Ware—designed to protect privacy-conscious citizens from surveillance by unmanned drones. Metals, as we know, are generally good at absorbing and scattering infrared light. To simplify that: in essence, Harvey’s material holds in body heat that would have otherwise shown up on drones’ infrared cameras. Let’s take a quick look at how it’s made:
- Woven fabric is coated with a precious metal that helps copper bind to the fiber
- The fabric is then submerged in a copper sulfate bath and dried.
- Finally, it is dipped in a nickel sulfamate bath to make the material more durable.
After all this, you get a bendable material that masks infrared radiation and electromagnetic interference. Though this treatment makes the material markedly heavier, it adds a certain flair to your Spring wardrobe with a coating of copper, nickel, and silver. They make four different pieces: a burqa ($2236), a “hoodie” ($469), a scarf ($551), and a visor ($52).* So it looks like you can put a price on beauty. And sure, you might even be able to put a price on privacy. But when it’s beauty and privacy combined within a silvery weird-but-dazzling garment…well, for everything else there’s MasterCard.
*All prices at current exchange rate.
Simply Science is a reoccurring post that aims to make recent scientific discoveries accessible and applicable to the Georgetown student.