Elena Semouchkina can make things invisible. The electrical and computer engineering professor at Michigan Tech used metamaterials to bend light waves to make objects disappear out-of-sight.
If the same thing could be replicated in visible light, Harry Potter fans would probably rush to the store to buy an invisibility cloak.
That reality is distant, but researchers are getting close.
Metamaterials act as designer atoms that can be used to bend light, so objects appear invisible. Unlike natural materials, metamaterials are artificial and depend on small resonators rather than atoms or molecules.
Semouchkina has made an invisibility cloak made of glass.
In this case, the resonator is made of chalcogenide glass and is shaped like a cylinder. When run on computer models, the glass invisibility cloak works in the infrared range.
Previously, researchers have tried to create invisibility cloaks with metal rings and wires.
“Ours is the first to do the cloaking of cylindrical objects with glass,” Semouchkina said in a statement.
“Starting from these experiments, we want to move to higher frequencies and smaller wavelengths,” Semouchkina added. “The most exciting applications will be at the frequencies of visible light.”
Next, the Michigan Tech researcher is going to test out the invisibility cloak at microwave frequencies using ceramic resonators.
Theoretical physicist Michio Kaku said on The Colbert Report that in the coming decade, we will have something resembling a Harry Potter invisibility cloak.
|The Colbert Report||Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c|
Professor Ulf Leonhardt of the University of St Andrews said to give the invisibility cloak a few years to blossom from science fiction to reality.
"Technology is the modern form of magic; imagine your ancestor being transported into the future - they never thought it possible that people could fly or talk to others in different parts of the world. Fantastical, magical things are possible in principle; the question is whether you can turn them into practice, and that depends largely on ideas, which are even more essential than the development of new materials," Leonhardt said in a statement.
At this rate, it won't be before long that you can go and buy an invisibility cloak at a store near you. Until then, get your fix and see a real invisibility cloak from Harry Potter, which is on display at Comic-Con.
Related on SmartPlanet: