Scientists move one step closer to invisibility cloak

By Lee Roop

Scientists in England have made an object disappear using a composite material of nano-sized particles to change the way its surface appears.

It’s not the invisibility cloak from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter novels, but reports on the research say it moves the world one step closer.

Here’s the way it worked. Researchers coated a curved surface with a nanocomposite medium with seven distinct layers, each with a different electrical property depending on position. The effect was to “cloak” an object allowing it to appear flat to electromagnetic waves.

The picture at left shows the cloak not in use where the presence of the object along the path of the traveling wave drastically changes its electric field configuration. At right, where the cloak is in action and the nanocomposite has been applied, there is a reduction in the amount of shadowing seen immediately after the object, as well as a noticeable improvement in the reconstruction of wave fronts. (Queen Mary University of London)

“The design is based on transformation optics, a concept behind the invisibility cloak,” said professor and study co-author Yang Hao of Queen Mary University of London’s School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science.

Scientists see an early use of the coating in changing how antennas are tethered to a platform. It could allow antennas of different shapes and sizes to be attached to a platform without being detectable.

The underlying design approach could be applied to control any kind of electromagnetic surface waves, researchers said.

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