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Scientists create three-dimensional invisibility cloak

Posting in Energy

European researchers have created a three-dimensional invisibility cloak that made gold disappear.

Harry Potter fans can rejoice.

German researchers and British researchers have created a three-dimensional invisibility cloak, showing that it is possible to make an object disappear.

The researchers made the cloak using photonic crystals to manipulate light waves. When the nanostructure is put over a small bump of gold, the bump disappears and the object looks flat.

While it isn't exactly a lab creation to brag about yet, it's an impressive start. After all, the scientists showed that it's possible to make an object disappear from wavelengths near visible light.

The Associated Press reports:

"We put an object under a , a little like a reflective carpet," said Nicholas Stenger, one of the researchers who worked on the project.

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

The European researchers created a carpet cloak in three hours using a high-intensity laser. Unfortunately for now, the invisibility magic is limited to the micro world. To put the size of the invisibility cloak into perspective, you can hardly see it with your eyes.

A number of scientists are on the invisibility case, including Duke University physicist David Smith, theoretical physicist Ulf Leonhardt of the University of St. Andrews, and the University of Utah's Graeme Milton. The researchers "all work on bending light."

Making larger objects invisible is a harder feat. While scientists aren't likely to make a car or a plane disappear anytime soon, the technology could have more immediate applications. It could help the military or focus energy to create supersensitive solar cells or help protect coastal communities from ocean waves.

Despite knowing the technical hurdles, Leonhardt is inspired by the Invisible Woman and Harry Potter to make objects invisible. And while it may seem like a magical and far-fetched dream, the professor gave himself a goal of two years to create a "blueprint for a practical cloaking device."

That was in 2009. He still has one more year to make that happen.

Image: Science/ AAAS (via AOL News)

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Boonsri Dickinson

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Boonsri Dickinson is a freelance journalist based in San Francisco. She has written for Discover, The Huffington Post, Forbes, Nature Biotech, Technewsdaily.com, Techstartups.com and AOL. She's currently a reporter for Business Insider. She holds degrees from the University of Florida and the University of Colorado at Boulder. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure