Scientists Have Created an Invisibility Cloak Straight Out of ‘Harry Potter’
Pulling off some Harry Potter invisibility might soon be more doable than you think, and no spells or wizardry required.
Now it might be a while before invisibility cloaks start popping up in your local costume store, but researchers at University of California, Berkeley, were able to make a small object disappear using an ultra-thin invisibility skin cloak. It’s a new technology because the cloak is incredibly thin and able to cloak an object without a lot of bulk.
According to a new research released by the journal of Science, the cloak is made of small golden brick-shaped “nanoantennas” that produce an invisibility effect by rerouting light waves away from the object. The cloaks’s “metasurface” was designed so that light hitting it would reflect as if it was hitting a flat mirror.
Invisibility cloaks have been around for a few years, but have been rather primitive compared to this new technology and were often bulky in their design. This new cloak is 2D but able to cover a 3D object and leave the object free from optical detection because it is only 80 nanometers thick. And because the cloak’s surface so closely resembles a mirror, the cloak itself is virtually undetectable when placed over an object – making it perfect for hiding that unsightly mess before your date comes over. Previous invisibility cloaks required using lots of material, making the cloaks far bulkier than the object they were trying to conceal.
Now as for the uses of the cloak, study coauthor Xiang Zhang, a materials scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, sees a possible use for everything from art projects to costume design and military purposes. Of course making a invisible mask with the material would only work for the particular contours of one’s face against a predetermined background. “This cloak may work with your face, but it doesn’t work with my face because our facial features are very different,” Zhang told the L.A. Times.
Making a large scale cloak that the military could simply throw over a tank isn’t quite available yet. The current cloak works only for wavelengths of light at 730 nanometers; to cover a larger scale it would have to be adapted to cover more wavelengths. There’s always a catch, right?