Infrared signature management (IRSM) has been a primary aeronautical concern for over 50 years. Most strategies and technologies are limited by the second law of thermodynamics. In this article, IRSM is considered in light of theoretical developments over the last 15 years that have put the absolute status of the second law into doubt and that might open the door to a new class of broadband IR stealth and cloaking techniques. Following a brief overview of IRSM and its current thermodynamic limitations, theoretical and experimental challenges to the second law are reviewed. One proposal is treated in detail: a high power density, solid-state power source to convert thermal energy into electrical or chemical energy. Next, second-law based infrared signature management (SL-IRSM) strategies are considered for two representative military scenarios: an underground installation and a SL-based jet engine. It is found that SL-IRSM could be technologically disruptive across the full spectrum of IRSM modalities, including camouflage, surveillance, night vision, target acquisition, tracking, and homing.
Sheehan, D. P. (2012). Infrared Cloaking, Stealth, and the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Entropy, 14(10), 1915–1938. https://doi.org/10.3390/e14101915