Meet the first (semi) invisible warship: it's painted in "low reflectivity" materials that make it hard to see on radar. While not invisible to the naked eye, this Swedish ship, called the Visby Corvette, is for all intents and purposes invisible to many of the instruments Navies would use to pick it up. Researchers say the next generation of high-stealth ships like this might be invisible to the naked eye, too. Want to see more of this invisible ship?

According to an article in the most recent issue of Physics World:

The "stealthiest" ship that currently exists is Sweden's Visby Corvette. Apart from being painted in grey dazzle camouflage and made of low-radar reflectivity materials, it also does not use propellers, which are the noisiest part of a ship. The vessel also has the lowest "magnetic signature" of any current warship.

But the next generation of warships could be truly invisible by exploiting "metamaterials" - artificially engineered structures first dreamt up by physicist John Pendry at Imperial College, London. Metamaterials are tailored to have specific electromagnetic properties not found in nature. In particular, they can bend light around an object, making it appear to an observer as though the waves have passed through empty space.

About the research, Chris Lavers writes, "If optical and radar metamaterials could be developed, they might provide a way to make a ship invisible to both human observers and radar systems, although the challenges of building a cloak big enough to hide an entire ship are huge."

Steps Towards Warship Invisibility [Eurekalert]