China has been funneling a lot of state funds into beefing up its military, which for the most part involves investing in scientists and engineers to develop and design aircraft, naval equipment and weaponry. But the government has also been working on a different kind of military tool — developing an “invisibility cloak.”
According to the South China Morning Post, Beijing has put funding into at least 40 research teams in recent years to develop a technology that can make things “disappear” in what sounds like a page out of Harry Potter. Now some of China’s major research institutions believe they are on the cusp of technology that could be applied to stealth aircraft.
Though the device being developed by Professor Chen Hongsheng's team at Zhejiang University is not actually an invisibility cloak, it serves the same purpose, making things “disappear.” It is a hexagonal mirrored object that deflects and fragments light, creating electromagnetic fields that simulate an invisibility effect.
Other universities across China have made headway as well, but the military classification of the research doesn’t allow them to disclose any specifics. Members of one research group, at Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics, are not authorized to comment but did say that they are developing “full invisibility” technology and materials for hypersonic jets, which could potentially be used to deliver nuclear warheads anywhere in the world. “We are invisible people studying invisible technology,” one researcher said anonymously.
The innovation of such unprecedented technology has larger implications for China. China is struggling to catch up to science, technology and medical programs around the world, hoping to match its economic and business prowess. During a recent visit, British Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne said China is “at the forefront of medicine, hi-tech and computing.” With China’s fast growing space program already reaching new heights, with the first lunar probe launched earlier this month, China has found great national pride in scientific advances. China’s Chang’e-3 lunar probe is equipped with a moon rover, making the mission, if it succeeds, the nation’s first soft landing on any space body.