An ultrathin flexible “invisibility cloak” that can wrap around an object and make it disappear has been successfully created and tested by scientists. This cloak is made of microscopic rectangular gold blocks that can take the shape of the surface it is wrapped on and can become undetectable.
While the tests were done on tiny objects, scientists say that the technology can be applied to larger objects with the assistance of military and other applications, as reported by ABC.net.au. While experimenting, the cloak was wrapped around a “bump” of 36 micrometers in size. The cloak was activated by switching the polarization of the nanoantannae, as reported by News.com.au.
“This is the first time a 3D object of arbitrary shape has been cloaked from visible light,” lead researcher, Dr Xiang Zhang, from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, said. “Our ultra-thin cloak now looks like a coat. It is easy to design and implement, and is potentially scalable for hiding macroscopic objects.”
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Although the technology has the potential for being used in applications such as high-resolution microscopes, super-fast optical computers, and 3D displays – as reported by the journal Science – using it as a disguise for soldiers and military vehicles will have to wait.
“The fact that we can make a curved surface appear flat also means that we can make it look like anything else. We also can make a flat surface appear curved,” Professor Xingjie Ni study lead author of Penn State University, said.
If the object concealed by the cloak moves, the invisibility will cease to persist. Moreover, the cloak is only functional over a limited range of light wavelengths.
Dr. Zhang says that the cloak is a long way from practical application. “We do not see fundamental roadblocks. But much more work needs to be done,” said Dr Zhang.
When covering a face, the cloak will conceal “all the pimples and wrinkles,” Professor Ni said. The cloak can also be “made to hide one’s belly.”
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