11 August 2008

Perhaps we won’t need to steal cloaking technology from the Romulans after all

The BBC (and a load of other media outlets) are reporting that researchers at the University of California in Berkeley may be closer to developing materials that could render people invisible. Researchers have developed a material that can bend light around 3D objects making them "disappear". They could one day be scaled up to make invisibility cloaks large enough to hide people.


The findings, by scientists led by Xiang Zhang, were published in the journals Nature and Science. The light-bending effect relies on reversing refraction, the effect that makes a straw placed in water appear bent. Previous efforts have shown this negative refraction effect using microwaves but the new materials work at wavelengths nearer to the visible part of the spectrum.


Two different teams led by Zhang made objects made of so-called metamaterials—artificial structures. One approach used nanometre-scale stacks of silver and magnesium fluoride in a "fishnet" structure, while another made use of nanowires made of silver. Light is neither absorbed nor reflected by the objects, passing "like water flowing around a rock," according to the researchers. As a result, only the light from behind the objects can be seen.


Although the materials might ultimately be used in developing cloaking devices it is more likely that there will be immediate applications for the devices in telecommunications and in the production of better microscopes which allow images of far smaller objects than conventional microscopes can see.


As ever I am not sure if this will lead to cloaking technology but it is fascinating stuff. It’s a shame that Kirk won’t get to seduce a Romulan captain after all!

9 comments:

Crushed said...

Watch out- Predator will be roaming the jungle soon...

jams o donnell said...

Well I suppose Arnie will give up his desk job and sort it out!

CherryPie said...

Very fascinating!

Roger B. said...

I'm trying hard not to visualize William Shatner wearing silver and magnesium fluoride fishnets... very Rocky Horror!

betmo said...

i am sure harry potter fans are jumping up and down with excitement too :)

jams o donnell said...

It is eh Cherie!

Ooh Roger that is an image that will stay with me all day now!

Oh yes Betmow. I forgot Harry Potter

TBRRob said...

May help the government with their plan to put a spy in every living room.

Liz said...

Fascinating. I wrote a short story a few years ago about an invisibility cloak. Long before JK!

jams o donnell said...

I'd love to read it Liz