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Invisibility Cloak Fools Naked Eye

An invisibility cloak that hides objects visible to the naked eye has been created by MIT researchers. Baile Zhang and colleagues have created an invisibility cloak capable of hiding objects in the millimeter range over a broad range of visible frequencies from red to blue.

Even better, this feat is accomplished using naturally-occurring materials shaped by conventional optical lens fabrication techniques. DIY invisibility cloaks, anyone?


(Cloaking device works the angles)
(a) A light ray is incident on a flat ground plane and reflected back with the same angle.
(b) When an object is sitting on the ground plane, the reflected ray changes its angle.
(c) When another flat ground plane is put on top of the object, the reflected ray restores its angle but suffers a lateral shift.
(d) When a transformation-based anisotropic cloak is covering the object, the reflected ray restores both its angle and position. The anisotropic medium has two principal refractive indexes n1 and n2 along two orthogonal directions. The observer in all cases is assumed to have a fixed height of h. In b and c, the original position of the observer is indicated with a dotted eye.

In the abstract to their paper , Zhang describes their work:

Invisibility cloaks, a subject that usually occurs in science fiction and myths, have attracted wide interest recently because of their possible realization. The biggest challenge to true invisibility is known to be the cloaking of a macroscopic object in the broad range of wavelengths visible to the human eye. Here we experimentally solve this problem by incorporating the principle of transformation optics into a conventional optical lens fabrication with low-cost materials and simple manufacturing techniques. A transparent cloak made of two pieces of calcite is created. This cloak is able to conceal a macroscopic object with a maximum height of 2 mm, larger than 3500 free-space-wavelength, inside a transparent liquid environment.

'Doc' Smith discussed the same idea in his famed 1934 novel Triplanetary:

"This structure, floating in a planetary orbit, was designed by me and built under my direction. It is protected from meteorites by certain forces of my devising. It is undetectable and invisible--your detectors do not touch it and light-waves are bent around it without loss or distortion. I am discussing these points at such length so that you may realize exactly your position. As I have intimated, you can be of assistance to me if you will."
(Read more about 'Doc' Smith's invisibility shield)

Macroscopic Invisible Cloak for Visible Light (pdf) via Technology Review.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 12/15/2010)

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