Why don’t Federation starships use cloaking technology?

Ask Sara!

Sharon wants to know why there is a lack of cloaking technology being used on Federation starships

invisibility cloak, cloaking technology

Cloaking Device

Dear Sara,
Why don’t Federation starships use cloaking technology? [easyazon_link asin=”1604334762″ locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”buzmag-20″ add_to_cart=”default” cloaking=”yes” localization=”default” popups=”default”]Kirk and Spock[/easyazon_link] stole a prototype from the Romulans yet a generation later it is not in use.


Dear Sharon,
In 2311, with the signing of the Treaty of Algeron, the Federation explicitly agreed not to develop cloaking technology. The Bajoran Provisional Government also outlawed cloaking devices, stating that the possession of such a device is highly illegal.

invisibility cloak, star trek stuff, win free stuff

Types of Experimental Cloaking Technology (wikipedia):

Howell/Choi Cloaking Technology – University of Rochester physics professor John Howell and graduate student Joseph Choi have announced a scalable cloaking device which uses common optical lenses to achieve visible light cloaking on the macroscopic scale. The device consists of a series of four lenses which direct light rays around objects which would otherwise occlude the optical pathway.

Metascreen – A prototype Metascreen is a claimed cloaking device, which is just few micrometers thick and to a limited extent can hide 3D objects from microwaves in their natural environment, in their natural positions, in all directions, and from all of the observer’s positions. It was prepared at the University of Texas, Austin by Professor Andrea Alù.

The metascreen consisted of a 66 micrometre thick polycarbonate film supporting an arrangement of 20 micrometer thick copper strips that resembled a fishing net. In the experiment, when the metascreen was hit by 3.6 GHz microwaves, it re-radiated microwaves of the same frequency that were out of phase, thus cancelling out reflections from the object being hidden. The device only cancelled out the scattering of microwaves in the first order. The same researchers published a paper on “plasmonic cloaking” the previous year.

Plasma stealth – Plasma at certain density ranges absorbs certain bandwidths of broadband waves, potentially rendering an object invisible. However, generating plasma in air is too expensive and a feasible alternative is generating plasma between thin membranes instead. The Defense Technical Information Center is also following up research on plasma reducing RCS technologies. A plasma cloaking device was patented in 1991.

Active camouflage – Active camouflage (or adaptive camouflage) is a group of camouflage technologies which would allow an object (usually military in nature) to blend into its surroundings by use of panels or coatings capable of changing color or luminosity. Active camouflage can be seen as having the potential to become the perfection of the art of camouflaging things from visual detection.

Optical camouflage is a kind of active camouflage in which one wears a fabric which has an image of the scene directly behind the wearer projected onto it, so that the wearer appears invisible. The drawback to this system is that, when the cloaked wearer moves, a visible distortion is often generated as the ‘fabric’ catches up with the object’s motion. The concept exists for now only in theory and in proof-of-concept prototypes, although many experts consider it technically feasible.

It has been reported that the British Army has tested an invisible tank. Mercedes demonstrated an invisible car using LED and camera in 2012.

Get FREE Buzzy Mag Email Updates!
Sara Bellum
The name's Sara Bellum, and I'm the editor-at-large here at BuzzyMag - the hostess with the mostess, if you will. I like to think that my first calling is fighting crime and delivering a heaping dose of sweet, sweet justice to all manner of thugs, miscreants, hoodlums, ruffians, and ne'er-do-wells, but unfortunately, violent vigilantism doesn't exactly pay big bucks these days.  

Times are tough, my friends, and I've got bills to pay, so I decided to put my encyclopedic knowledge of all things sci-fi & fantasy-related to use to help me land a day job. To tell you the truth, it's kind of a nice change of pace. My manicures have been lasting a bit longer lately.