Boffins one step closer to invisible shed
Successfully cloak 3D object from microwaves
Invisibility-investigating boffins have managed for the first time to cloak a three-dimensional object in free space – but only from microwaves.
Rather than bending light around the object, an 18cm cylindrical tube, the researchers used "plasmonic cloaking", which uses metamaterials that don't reflect light in the same way as an object.
"When the scattered fields from the cloak and the object interfere, they cancel each other out and the overall effect is transparency and invisibility at all angles of observation," study co-author Professor Andrea Alu said in a canned statement.
But don't get too excited yet, the boffins only successfully fooled waves in the microwave section of the electromagnetic spectrum. They have yet to have any success with visible light.
The cloak gave the best results when the microwaves were at a frequency of 3.1 gigahertz and over a moderately broad bandwidth. The shape of the object being cloaked behind the plasmonic stuff is irrelevant, but size does matter.
"In principle, this technique could be used to cloak light; in fact, some plasmonic materials are naturally available at optical frequencies.
"However, the size of the objects that can be efficiently cloaked with this method scales with the wavelength of operation, so when applied to optical frequencies we may be able to efficiently stop the scattering of micrometre-sized objects," Alu said.
So the best they can do at the moment is think about possibly properly making a microscope tip invisible, which would be good for biomedical and optical near-field reasons, but not terribly exciting for those hoping to wander around Hogwarts with impunity.
I think Orange got there first...
My phone seems to be invisible to their microwaves half the time!
I made an invisible shed once
I sent MIT some photographs but they wouldn't believe me.
I agree, the article was light on details. However, the tone of the headline would suggest that the concept has been covered before in The Reg.
To answer your question, the point is to keep Reg readers up to date with small progressions in an ongoing area of research. It is fairly clear that the important word in the article is "metamaterials".
I would recommend to everyone have a glance at the Wikepedia article that results from searching for the above word- some interesting concepts to muddle the brain with!
Making an invisible shed is but one of many potential (hopefully maybe!) applications across a broad range of disciplines.