Bringing Invisibility Cloaks to Reality

Bringing Invisibility Cloaks to Reality image
August 13, 2015 | Source: Homeland Defense & Security Information Analysis Center (HDIAC), hdiac.org, HDIAC Staff

Scientists are working on creating a new design for a technology that redefines what the public views as imaginary. Inspired by the well-known Invisibility Cloak from Harry Potter, electrical engineers at the University of California, San Diego have created a new design for their cloaking device, using a Teflon substrate, studded with cylinders of ceramic, that is thinner than any prior development and does not alter the brightness of light around concealed objects. The Teflon has a low refractive index, while the ceramic’s refractive index is higher, which allows light to be dispersed through the sheet without any absorption. Compared to an invisibility cloak, this technology has not only the ability to conceal, but the ability to increase optical communication signal speed and to collect solar energy.

The goal of this design is to create devices that make any object appear invisible by scattering the electromagnetic waves, such as light and radar, off an object making it less detectable to these wave frequencies. Metamaterial that surrounds the target is able to force light to bypass a region of space, which effectively “cloaks” the object, making it isolated from incoming electromagnetic waves.

Prior developments to this technology needed many layers in order to cover an object, resulting in a very thick layer that enclosed the object. With this new, super-thin design, this technology has the capability to better hide the three-dimensionality and shadow of an object. Additionally, this new cloaking device addresses the issue with the brightness of the space behind them. The University of California has achieved a cloak that won’t reduce any intensity when light is reflected so the concealed object will remain undetectable and will appear completely flat to an observer’s eyes.