Invisibility Cloak Technology Advances

Researchers have made advances in Invisibility cloak technology. Probably one of the most fascinating areas of applied physics right now is in the area of invisibility cloaks. Researchers have constructed an invisibility cloak capable of hiding a tiny object by altering the behavior of the light that hits it.

Though nothing of the size of real full size cloak scientists say they have constructed and tested a cloak that can disguise a minuscule object, 0.000024 inches wide by 0.000012 inches high, roughly the size of a red blood cell or 100 times thinner than a human hair, according to study researcher Majid Gharghi, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, Berkeley.

This is the first invisibility cloak made out of sophisticated, artificial materials called metamaterials that work with the full spectrum of light visible to the human eye.

Until now, metamaterial cloaks such as this one have hidden objects only from limited parts of the electromagnetic spectrum, outside the range of what we can see or for only part of the visible range.

In other words, the carpet cloak works by concealing an object under the layers, and bending light waves away from the bump that the object makes, so that the cloak appears flat and smooth like a normal mirror. Although the study cloaked a microscopic object, the device demonstrates that it may be “capable of cloaking any object underneath a reflective carpet layer. Another researcher, Xiang Zhang and colleagues note that invisibility cloaks, which route electromagnetic waves around an object to make it undetectable, “are still in their infancy.”

So maybe nowhere near the technology only seen in fantasy, scientist are getting somewhere in their research of the technology. Camouflaging cloaks form a central plot element in Samuel R. Delany’s 1975 novel Dhalgren and the Harry Potter series of novels by J.K. Rowling. Harry uses the cloak to sneak into forbidden areas of the school.

More recently, cloaking devices have been used in PC videogames, for example Battlefield Heroes and Sony’s Planetside, where they aid stealth-based characters. The cloaking devices appearing in Star Wars, Star Trek and Stargate, present a similar notion in a science fiction form, but are generally used to hide larger scale objects, such as space ships. In science fiction cloaking, there is generally presented an assumed quasi-scientific, in-universe basis for the concept of achieving invisibility.

Conversely, invisibility and cloaking is commonly presented in the science fantasy genre as a magical phenomenon, rather than in forms that rely on pure science.

By: Pat Prescott
Published: Aug 3, 2021
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