Okay, I know maybe I’ve been jumping the gun this month with all these movie references, but I have to let my inner geek sing. While it’s true that the invisibility cloak from Star Trek or Harry Potter doesn’t not exist, and most likely never will (because sadly, the laws of physics don’t allow it), you have to let a girl dream.
Thankfully, the laws of physics will allow this, because the laws also allow for light to bend around objects. Which means, basically, that in certain (very specific) wavelengths, the light bends, and the object behind it seemingly disappears (like magic!!!!).
While this might be old news for some of you smart kids, I’ll have you know that the technology that allowed us to do this in the past was usual massive - and hardly a super stealthy secret cape.
But California is on the ball. Researchers (or people that are also fans of Star Trek or Harry Potter) from the University of California in San Diego have finally created a slim design for an invisibility cloak. It’s basically a Teflon sheet that has been bedazzled with numerous, tiny cylindrical ceramic particles that ensure light waves reflect off of their surface.
Using simulations to guarantee the cloaking effect, these researchers have managed to conceal an object that was sitting still on a flat surface (now this is also giving me painful Lord of the Rings flashbacks where Frodo and Sam finally get to the gate, only to use their special cloaks to turn into rocks, is anybody else nerding with me here?).
"By changing the height of each dielectric particle, we were able to control the reflection of light at each point on the cloak," Li-Yi Hsu said, the primary author of the study.
"Previous cloaking studies needed many layers of materials to hide an object, the cloak ended up being much thicker than the size of the object being covered," he said. "In this study, we show that we can use a thin single-layer sheet for cloaking."
Basically, they have invented a sheet. That’s pretty cool, guys, but I’m still waiting for the real deal.
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