Get ready to witness some James Bond-esque, HALO-style active camouflage action. Researchers at the University of Texas at Dallas have cleverly tapped the unique characteristics of carbon nanotubes and the light-bending weirdness of the mirage effect to create a kind of invisibility cloak that can be turned on and off at the flip of a switch.
BAE Systems's Adaptiv technology enables objects as big as tanks to completely vanish from view--when seen at night with an infrared sensor, admittedly, but that's still a major advantage. An Adaptiv-outfitted tank can change its thermal signature to look like anything from a big rock to a truck to nothing at all, fading into the background and becoming invisible.
To think Marco Polo didn’t even know what he had. Silk and gold, considered luxury items for as long as mankind has enjoyed shiny things, might now lead the way forward in the growing field of metamaterials. Turning flashy into inconspicuous, scientists from Tufts and Boston University have created an invisibility cloak from silk coated with gold.
We're one step closer to the stuff of sci-fi and boy wizards. Researchers at the California Institute of Technology have engineered a metamaterial with a refined 3-D structure that gives light a negative refraction index upon entering the material. Put another way, it bends light the opposite way one might expect, irrespective of the angle or polarization of incoming light waves. Put yet another way: We're getting closer to that invisibility cloak we've been looking for.
Invisibility cloaks continue to taunt us in 2010 with their promise of Harry Potter-style shenanigans. But New Scientist points to a new proposal that consists of silver-coated nanoparticles floating in water. Such nanoparticles would self-assemble into chains that are controllable by magnetic fields of different strengths, Chinese scientists say -- at least in theory.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.