May 8, 2008
German invents radar deflecting paint
Nickel, 67, a wheelchair-bound amateur inventor from Berlin, decided to concoct a paint to shield tanks, ships and aircraft from radar detection in much the same way that Stealth bombers are invisible. Nickel already had a name for his miracle paint: AR 1. After spending thousands and thousands hours in the laboratory, he finally mixed the paint he was looking for. He sent a can of it to Helmut Essen, a radiation physicist who runs the radar technology department at the Research Establishment for Applied Science (FGAN) near Bonn. Essen examined Nickel’s paint and was surprised to learn that it works. When a house, a ship or a car that would usually light up on a radar screen is coated with AR 1, it disappears almost completely into the darkness. Essen hasn’t been able to figure out why this happens. It might be because the paint is a type of Jaumann absorber, which reflects incoming radar waves in such a way that they cancel each other out. Or it could have something to do with microscopically minute magnetic particles that absorb the radiation’s energy.
But Essen still isn’t sure what exactly makes the paint work. Essen considers the fact that Nickel concocted the paint out in the desert — with almost no research resources at his disposal. In all likelihood, Nickel’s invention is probably more valuable for civilian use. Pilots and air traffic controllers worldwide complain about the interfering effect that airport buildings have on the radar screen. If they were coated with Nickel’s paint, they could be made largely invisible.