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Scientists stitch up cloaking device

Romulan? Or maybe Harry Potter?

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A transatlantic team of researchers has taken a big step towards their cloak of invisibility by successfully hiding a cylinder from microwaves, according to the journal Science and tabloid, The Sun.

Professor Sir John Pendry, winner of the Institute of Physics's Dirac medal in 1996, and chair in Theoretical Solid State Physics at Imperial College, London, led a team of researchers at Duke's University in North Carolina to develop a prototype device that can make objects undetectable by radar.

Professor David R Smith, Augustine Scholar and professor of electrical and computer engineering at Duke University, explained that the key lies in the metamaterials the cloak would be made of.

Metamaterials can be designed with very specific properties that allow scientists to control the path of electromagnetic radiation very precisely.

Electromagnetic waves would flow around an object hidden inside the cloak, he noted, just as water in a river flows virtually undisturbed around a smooth rock.

So the cloak works by steering microwaves around it, and the researchers are confident they will be able to develop materials that can steer light rays too, making an object invisible to the eye.

The blueprint for the cloak was, ahem, unveiled in May this year. At the time, Professor Smith said:

"The cloak would act like you've opened up a hole in space. All light or other electromagnetic waves are swept around the area, guided by the metamaterial to emerge on the other side as if they had passed through an empty volume of space." ®

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