Scientists have inched closer to developing a ‘Harry Potter’ style invisibility cloak after devising a revolutionary new method to make objects disappear within a limited range of light waves.
Researchers at the University of Texas developed a thin material called a ‘mantle cloak’ which makes an object ‘invisible’ after being wrapped in it.
However, the effect only applies to a limited range of light waves — specifically microwaves, ‘CNN’ reported.
How did they achieve it?
Scientists covered a cylinder about a foot long and an inch or so in diameter with the material. Microwave detectors could no longer plainly ‘see’ it, although it was still visible to the human eye.
Researchers said the same principle could be transferred to the range of perceptible light, which would then make objects invisible to the human eye.
The effect only covers a very small band of electromagnetic waves at one time, and in the visible range of light, it would only work on objects much thinner than a single strand of hair.
According to the researchers, the new cloak is made of a sheer, handy material that can be applied to many surfaces, even irregular ones.
The science behind it
Previous attempts at achieving invisibility have involved bending or reflecting light around the object that is meant to vanish.
Light is a wave that can be disturbed. That’s what the mantle cloak does.
Made by combining copper tape with polycarbonate, a material commonly used in DVD’s and CDs, the resulting cloak has a miniscule pattern that neutralises the waves bouncing off of it, the report said.
For it to work, the material’s pattern has to be roughly the size of the wavelength of light to be cancelled out. That gives it a tightly limited range of waves it will work on.
Although the scientists say the principle behind the cloak could currently only be used to hide objects from the human eye that are so tiny it can’t see them anyhow, they say it could “pave the way” to the development of advanced “camouflaging and invisibility.”PTI