What's the Latest Development?
Researchers have 'cloaked' a three-dimensional object for the first time, making it invisible from all angles. Using a shell made of plasmonic materials, an 18cm long cylinder appeared to disappear beneath incoming light from the microwave region of the electromagnetic spectrum. The materials "present a 'photo negative' of the object being cloaked, effectively cancelling it out." Previous efforts have focused on a 'carpet cloak', in which the object is overlaid with a 'carpet' of metamaterial that bends light so as to make the object invisible.
What's the Big Idea?
Because plasmonic materials act like a photo negative, a distinct cloak must be prepared for each object. While the technology does not currently operate at the visible spectrum, researchers think it could be use to improve scanning microscopes—the best microscopes science has to offer—"to yield an improved view of even smaller wavelengths of light." A Harry Potter-style cloak still remains a ways off but researchers say the plasmonic technique is their bet for the most applicable cloak.
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