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The Invisibility Cloak Works, Ready In 5 Years

50 points to Gryffindor!

Or rather, 50 points to the Materials Sciences Division of the US Department of Energy and its director Dr Xiang Zhang, who've taken the fantastical concept of the invisibility cloak a step closer a reality. 

Their latest experiments have successfully tested an ultra-thin (80 nanometer's thick, which is thinner than a wavelength of light) 'cloak', covered in a fine grid of microscopic golden squares.

By attaching itself to objects like a skin, the cloak can "reroute light waves": usually, light hits a surface and either bounces off or becomes absorbed. With this super-thin structure, the light waves behave in an entirely different manner as the surface contains features smaller than a wave of light. As such, three dimensional objects appear flat, or not even there at all.

"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," said study lead author Professor Xingjie Ni of Penn State University. You can read the full study findings here.

So what would you use it for?

Hiding tanks. And soldiers. And any other covert operation uses the US military can think of. 

A 'useful' version of the technology is apparently five to 10 years away, but Dr Ni is certain it could have a range of military functions - or even be used in clothing to hide guts, or a face mask to hide blemishes. 

Or sneaking into the potions store to steal supplies for your latest adventure. Right?

[Via: ABC]

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