Shades of Star Trek's Romulan cloaking device: The Israel Air Force may soon be flying under the radar – even when it isn't – thanks to a new “stealth paint” developed with nanotechnology.

The science of the material is, in fact, not so far a stretch from the famed classic American sci-fi television series, in which the cloaking device caused spaceships to become invisible to parts of the electromagnetic spectrum.

The Israel-based Nanoflight firm has just completed trials on a special paint that can make an aerial vehicle nearly undetectable by radar. It won't make it impossible, but it will certainly make the task infinitely more difficult, due to the qualities of the paint, which makes it appear as if the aircraft is some other object in the surrounding environment.

The cost-benefit ratio is also a major plus: a U.S.-made Stealth plane costs in the vicinity of $5 billion. “Stealth paint” costs considerably less.

A successful test run of the technology was completed this week, with a thin layer of the paint spread over dummy missiles. Radar waves aimed at the “missiles” had a tough time finding them, and could not identify them as missiles.

This is how it works. Any object coated with the paint is enveloped by the nanotechnology used to produce the material. When electromagnetic waves are sent out by radar to sense whatever is entering its defense field, those radio waves are absorbed by the painted object, and then subsequently released back into the atmosphere as heat energy.

The changed electromagnetic waves return to their source, which would normally register the distance of the object, as with sonar in a medical ultrasound test, but there aren't enough of them to make an identification on a radar screen.

“Stealth paint” can also be used for other purposes according to the firm, which is also working on an application that will work with infrared, so that soldiers won't be visible on night-vision goggles.

The technology is useful for civilian applications as well. The material might in future be used to prevent pollution through its absorption and transformation properties, said Nanoflight CEO Ricardo Burstein. Guardrails along the main streets of Ramat Gan are being painted with the material in an experiment to see whether it will help eliminate air pollution generated by passing vehicles, he said. Another application of the technology might be to prevent the radiation emitted by electrical transformers from reaching homes and schools.