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Invisibility Cloaks Seen As Possible With Metamaterials

John Pendry and colleagues at Imperial College London, UK, think that metamaterials could make an invisibility cloak a real device.

Metamaterials are artificially structured composites first made in 2001 by David Smith, now at Duke University. Their negative refractive index forces light to bend in the opposite direction found in normal materials. Pendry and colleagues have now shown that metamaterials can guide light around an object.

The problem with this kind of story is that it is very difficult to get an idea of whether or not this idea is actually workable for a normal-sized object in a real-world environment. It's fun to read about, though.

As far as I know, the first reference to an invisibility cloak in science fiction is the invisible cloak from Ray Cummings 1931 classic Brigands of the Moon. Humans have been fascinated by this topic; Greek and Norse mythology have plenty of examples. The first science fiction novel about invisibility is, of course, The Invisible Man, by H.G. Wells in 1897.

Read more about this story at NewScientist and physics web. Also, check out these earlier stories on Invisibility using plasmonic covers and Invisibility possible with superlenses. Thanks to various readers including James and Amritt for prodding me to do this story.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 5/28/2006)

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