An Ultrathin Invisibility Cloak Is Finally Created

Posted: Sep 18 2015, 4:14am CDT | by , in News | Latest Science News

 
An Ultrathin Invisibility Cloak is Finally Created
A 3D illustration of the ultrathin invisibility skin cloak made of brick-like gold nanoantennas wrapped around a 3D object. Light reflects off the cloak (shown by the red arrows) as if it were reflecting off a flat mirror. Credit: Xiang Zhang group, Berkeley Lab/UC Berkeley
  • The Wonders of Technology: An Invisibility Cloak

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Among the wonders of technology is a very thin invisibility cloak made of gold nanoantennas. This is the stuff that is almost magical in its scope.

Everybody has heard of the invisible cloak in the Harry Potter series of books by J.K. Rowling. Well, such out-of-this-world things are not only possible but actually exist. Scientists have made inroads into constructing a device that can make a small object virtually disappear.

It consists of a very thin layer of brick gold nanoantennas. The cloak of sorts is just 80 nanometers in width. This happens to be the first time that scientists have built such a contraption.

Basically the device works like this: the small gold brick antennas reflect the light impinging on the object back to the viewer. This makes that particular portion of the object that is covered with the gold nanoantennas invisible for all purposes. The experiment is still in its nascent stage.

The cloak is two-dimensional while it can easily hide a three-dimensional object. And while erstwhile cloaks were unwieldy objects that were difficult to apply to objects for invisibility purposes, this one is thin enough to be tightly wrapped around the concerned object. The object then remains hidden from view.

The cloak is what would be termed a “metasurface”. It successfully reflects back light from its exterior like a mirror. Thus the naked eye cannot detect the object around which it is tightly wound.

The beautiful thing is that not only is the object invisible but the cloak is not to be seen either. It all depends upon the perfect design of the invisibility cloak. The scope for using this cloak is virtually limitless. It can even hide jagged edges and peaks in the object.

The applications of this wonderful technology range from the cosmetic to the military. It can be used to hide a beer belly at a beach. The paunch may be converted into a six pack by the sheer properties of the cloak. And any ammunitions or army personnel that need to be hidden from the gaze of the enemy could use this invisibility cloak anytime.

The earlier techniques for invisibility required camouflage. This time around though the special piece of wraparound cloak needs no power source and is able to function on its own. It makes detecting the object which it is cast over an impossibility unless of course you were to bump into it by accident.

But the invisibility cloak that has been made is very small. Larger samples will require greater resources and more technological input.

Researchers at University of California, Berkeley have made this ultrathin invisibility cloak. They published their study, titles "An ultrathin invisibility skin cloak for visible light,” in the journal Science on Thursday.

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