Scientists in Germany invent invisibility cloak

Posted: August 8, 2010 in Uncategorized

BY Christina Boyle
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER

Saturday, March 20th 2010, 1:29 PM

The illustration above shows how light is manipulated around an object -- making it invisible.

The illustration above shows how light is manipulated around an object — making it invisible.

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The creation of Harry Potter-style invisibility cloaks may be closer than you think.

German scientists have found a way to make an object vanish from view in three dimensions for the first time, according to a study published in the journal “Science.”

The researchers placed a “cloak” over a tiny lump of gold and distorted the lighting, hitting so it appeared invisible.

“We put an object under a microscopic structure, a little like a reflective carpet,” said Nicholas Stenger, one of the researchers from Karlsruhe Institute of Technology who worked on the project.

“When we looked at it through a lens and did spectroscopy, no matter what angle we looked at the object from, we saw nothing. The bump became invisible.”

The invisible cape was made up of crystals with air spaces in between that resembled piles of wood and bend light to hide the gold beneath.

The dimensions were tiny: the lump was 0.00004 inches high by 0.00005 inches wide, and the object used to cover it was 100 microns by 30 microns, with one micron being one-thousandth of a millimeter.

Researchers said the chances of making a life-size cloak suitable for a wizard’s wardrobe was still many years away, and it would first be a rigid structure instead of a free flowing cape.

“Theoretically, it would be possible to do this on a large scale but technically, it’s totally impossible with the knowledge we have know,” said Stenger.

“But it could become a reality in 10 years.”

Previous attempts to achieve invisibility only worked in two dimensions and if the object was viewed from a specific angle.

They also only worked for microwave frequencies, but this study works for infrared light, which is a key step closer to the spectrum visible to the naked eye.

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