Invisibility cloak just around the corner?

20Jan09

A new metamaterials breakthrough from researchers David R. Smith of Duke University and Tai Jun Cui of Nanjing Southeast Universiry in China brings invisibility cloaks close to reality.

invisible cloakMetamaterials are artificial composites designed to manipulate light in ways that natural materials can’t. In order to make an metamaterial object invisible its structure should be such that light waves bend around it then reconnect on the other side:

060524_invisible_hmed8p.widec

The team’s metamaterial is a rectangular sheet (~50x10cm) made up of 600 I-Shaped copper structures that can bend light in the microwave spectrum. According to John Pendry, chair in theoretical solid-state physics at Imperial College, the breakthrough is not in the construction process itself but in determining the appropriate dimensions and distribution of the copper structures. New software algorithms have made this task feasible and the team is confident that an invisibility cloak that works at optical frequencies is also within reach.

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