Predator-like cloaking almost a reality Page: 1 Science close to unveiling invisible man
Now here's something really cool! Research scientists at the University of California have engineered a material that can bend visible light around objects. The research is being funded by the American military, although it is still some years before we see it applied in real world scenarios.
The University of California's research follows on from earlier work conducted at the Imperial College in London that achieved similar results with microwaves. Like light, these are a form of electromagnetic radiation but their longer wave-length makes them far easier to manipulate. Achieving the same effect with visible light is a big advance.
Underlying the work is the idea that bending visible light around an object will hide it.
Xiang Zhang, the leader of the researchers, said: “In the case of invisibility cloaks or shields, the material would need to curve light waves completely around the object like a river flowing around a rock.” An observer looking at the cloaked object would then see light from behind it – making it seem to disappear.
The materials responsible for allowing the bending of light around an object are known as meta materials, and do not occur naturally. It has only been in the past few years that nano-scale engineering, manipulating matter at the level of atoms and molecules, has advanced sufficiently to give scientists the chance to create them. Astonishingly, researchers had to construct a material whose elements were engineered to within about 0.00000066 of a metre.
The world’s two leading scientific journals, Science and Nature, are expected to report the results this week.
"There's something out there waiting for us...and it ain't no man"
Although the immediate application may be obvious, what are the implications?