New Cloaking Device
Cloaking Device Reaches Near Perfect Invisibility
Ever since the release of H.G.Well’s hit 1896 novel, The Invisible Man, the concept of developing a real life invisibility cloak has slowly grown from a crazy sci-fi concept, into a reality. But finding a material able to bend light in a manner that makes the object behind the cloak disappear, has been no easy feat.
Scientist realized they must engineer their own ‘meta-materials’, artificially structured materials that have properties not found in natural materials, and thus several advancements have been made in the recent years.
Now, engineers from Duke University have almost perfected a device that can “cloak” items placed on a mirror surface.
The first design of this device came in 2006, however the specifications of the materials distorted the light that bounced off.
To create the new device, researchers developed a new set of mathematical algorithms which were used to engineer a new metamaterial able bend electromagnetic light waves around an object so it appears invisible.
To test the new device, the researchers aimed a beam of microwaves at a bump on a flat mirror surface. Normally, this bump would cause the beams to scatter, as seen here.
But the new metamaterial cloaking structure was able to bend the waves around the object, removing any sign of scattered beams, so that the reflected image resembles that of the flat plane, as if the bump were not there.
The technology in the same way mirages are created on the road in hot weather.
“You see what looks like water hovering over the road, but it is in reality a reflection from the sky,”
Explained David Smith, William Bevan Professor of electrical and computer engineering at Duke:
“In that example, the mirage you see is cloaking the road below. In effect, we are creating an engineered mirage with this latest cloak design.”
While the cloaking device is still in its beginning stages, Smith believes the cloaks show promise and could one day serve as protective shields or improve wireless communications by making signal-blocking obstacles “disappear.”
“I still think it is a distant concept, but this latest structure does show clearly there is a potential for cloaking — in the science fiction sense — to become science fact at some point…
“Maybe we wouldn’t have something as simple and as all-encompassing as a Harry Potter cloak, but in certain contexts or situations cloaking effects do seem to have some reality.”
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