If any of you have read the H.G. Wells classic, The Invisible Man, or you’ve seen Harry Potter or even the latest Jurassic Park film, you’ll know that the power of invisibility is a pretty sought after one – although in all those things except Harry Potter, invisibility is always used as a weapon.
Nevertheless, invisibility is a power that every single one of us can say we’ve wanted to own at some point in our lives – for whatever reasons. Well, it looks like this technology might see the light of day sooner rather than later thanks to a small development made by a Californian scientist, Boubacar Kanté, who also serves as a professor at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering.
Not only are we seeing developments made by Kante and his team, but we’re also being treated to research made by a group of scientists headed by Dr. Xiang Zhang.
So how do these contraptions work? Can they really make someone invisible? Well, so far – kind of.
When we say kind of, we mean that the cloak hasn’t been developed to cover a full-scale person – it’s still in the smaller scale stages.
You see, light plays a central part in how we see objects. Usually when light bounces off a three-dimensional object, the light is scattered and the wave front gets distorted, which is why we can see all those lovely angles and curves on an object.
How this cloak works is that the thin meta-material that makes up the cloak conforms to irregularly shaped objects and renders them invisible in certain wave lengths of light – it manipulates the light.
This wonderful meta-material is covered in nano-antennas made up of tiny gold blocks of different sizes that can counteract the distortion created by light, making it seem like the light is coming from a flat surface.
The cloak is only 80 nano-meters thick, which is good as previous attempts at this technology were said to be too bulky and therefore difficult to scale up. However, the current cloak can only cover a very small object, so there’s a long way to go before we can sneak around the forbidden section of a library unnoticed or see those invisible armies Griffin spent so much time raving about.
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