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Invisibility cloak closer to reality

August 3, 2011


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Scientists have devised an “invisibility cloak” material that can hide objects from detection using light that is visible to humans, a U.S. journal reports.

Writing in the American Chemical Society journal Nano Letters, researcher Xiang Zhang and colleagues note invisibility cloaks, which route electromagnetic waves around an object to make it undetectable, “are still in their infancy.”

Cloaking technology so far has used materials that can only hide things using microwave or infrared waves, which are just below the threshold of human vision, they said.

The researchers built a reflective “carpet cloak” out of layers of silicon oxide and silicon nitride etched in a special pattern that 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, an ACS release said.

Although the new material can only cloak a microscopic object about the size of a red blood cell, the researchers said it demonstrates the concept of a material “capable of cloaking any object underneath a reflective carpet layer.”

“In contrast to the previous demonstrations that were limited to infrared light, this work makes actual invisibility for the light seen by the human eye possible,” the scientists wrote.

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