UH Moment

UH Moment: “Active Cloaking”

Math and science fiction meet at the University of Houston. Learn more in this UH Moment.

Invisibility cloaks are the magic stuffs of Harry Potter movies and books, but research from a department of mathematics professor may one day make aircraft undetectable. 

“We are trying to shield and render aircrafts and ground vehicles and ground locations undetectable to radar,” said Daniel Onofrei, UH assistant professor of mathematics.  His research is not creating an invisibility cloak, but it is creating something called active cloaking.

Invisibility Cloak from Harry Potter“If you want to be invisible with respect to radar, you would like to have active antennae on your aircraft, so that you can detect any incoming radar wave trying to detect you,” he said. “You’d then want the ability to generate a canceling pulse, so that the interrogator waiting for an echo will get nothing back.” 

His research uses mathematical equations to cancel the incoming radar waves, rendering the aircraft or ground location undetectable.

Onofrei says mathematics is like the alphabet used to create numeric words.

“Once you have the equations, it’s like having the language. Once you have the language it’s very, very simple to formulate the problem,” he said.  

Onofrei says he’s just a few years away from simulations and design strategies.  The Air Force Office of Scientific Research awarded Onofrei $360,000 over threeyears as part of its Young Investigator Program

“You will be happy if you are lucky to find your gifts early on, and pursue them, and try to be useful with them.  That’s what I’m trying to be—useful with my gifts.”