It's like something out of a science fiction novel or a Harry Potter book. Engineers from Duke University have constructed a device that can "cloak" items placed on a mirror surface.
First designed in 2006, the new version of the device is a more sophisticated and complicated design that can cloak a wider variety of waves.
To create the new device, the researchers developed a new set of mathematical algorithms which, in turn, are used to engineer artificially structured "metamaterials" that have properties not found in natural materials. The metamaterials are what form the cloaking structures, which bend electromagnetic waves, like light, around an object, so it appears the object is no longer there.
We see ordinary objects, like the flat surface above, when light bounces off them to our eyes.
To test the new device, the researchers aimed a beam of microwaves at a bump on a flat mirror surface. Normally, this bump would cause the beams to scatter, as seen here.
But in the experiment, the metamaterial cloaking structure was able to bend the waves around the object, removing any sign of scattered beams, so that the reflected image resembles that of the flat plane, as if the bump were not there.
To think of it another way, the device acts like the mirages created on the road in the summer.
"You see what looks like water hovering over the road, but it is in reality a reflection from the sky," says David Smith, William Bevan Professor of electrical and computer engineering at Duke. "In that example, the mirage you see is cloaking the road below. In effect, we are creating an engineered mirage with this latest cloak design."
While the cloaking device is still in its beginning stages, Smith believes the cloaks show promise and could one day serve as protective shields or improve wireless communications by making signal-blocking obstacles "disappear."
While its uses may be practical, the idea of cloaking objects seems like something straight out of a Star Trek episode. Could H.G. Wells' Invisible Man become a reality? "I still think it is a distant concept, but this latest structure does show clearly there is a potential for cloaking -- in the science fiction sense -- to become science fact at some point," says Smith. "Maybe we wouldn't have something as simple and as all-encompassing as a Harry Potter cloak, but in certain contexts or situations cloaking effects do seem to have some reality."
WOW! Just think of all the possibilities!
Yeah that is awesome, but when would it be available? And what is it made out of?
The technology is not available to the public unless you have a nanoscope and some very expensive tools.
Only the Military is willing to spend ridiculous amounts of cash to pay scientists to create meta materials which have already been used for such things like surfaces of aircrafts, clothing, and i am sure for other technologies like lasers and stuff that would get you in trouble with national security for exploiting knowledge.
The only thing Distant about the concept of full frequency cloaking is the infinite wavelengths and amplitudes possible to cloak. However when someone figures out the right algorithms to completely cloak the UV spectrum, We as Humans will loose all freedom of privacy, unless of course Global Union and Respect come first and the technology is used professionally for advancement and knowledge most importantly.
~ You fall somewhere in the Balanced Frequency of Nature.
super awsome. perhaps this could be used on our airforces stealth bombers to make them even more steatlhy
The problem becomes the vaiety of warvelengths. A surface that turns microwaves (which are rather large) likely would not turn visible spectrum light, a much smaller wave. Even if you tuned one to turn all visable light (and that seems a streach, as the wider swath of wavelengths you try to turn, the more waves don't get moved around), you would only have something invisable to the naked eye. UV and InfraRed goggles would still see the person (and both of those techs are cheap).
You would also still (1) emit heat and convert O2, (2) breath and displace air, (3) create sound, and (4) disrupt lasar beams like those used in security sensors.
Where in military life today does line of sight apear to have much of a future anyways?
Darkfx, why give 4 different webpages for yourself? who the hell cares?
Darkfx, why give 4 different webpages for yourself? who the hell cares?
Man, years ago the human race would sit and think of artificial brains, as we call computers today. Now we are passing yet another milestone as we break the pure idea of vision. The impossible is now possible, the unbeveivable is beleivable. One day we will notice how much we have accomplished, and how much raw talent we have. Ideas are endless, same as the existance of the human race. I really really really want one of these cloaks.
I feel this tech is still years away. If it was designed in the form of a sheet or a blanket it would be much more purposeful.
Inventive designs like that Coffee Melts stuff you put in your Coffee is a better tech then Starbucks and I see it wiping Starbucks off the corp scene in a year, www.coffeemelts.com natural goodness
Doctor Los Angeles:
Did you seriously just use the Popular Science website to advertise for a coffee additive?
Certainly there are all sorts of applications this could be useful which has little to do with covert or illegal activities.
1: The audio sound that reverberates inside the speakers cabinet can be stabilized creating a cleaner sounding speaker system. On a larger scale, concert halls can have this applied to pillars and other obstructions to minimize echoes. Basically any environment where sound quality is very important like a recording studio.
2: Large reflectors used in solar energy collection or in reflecting telescopes to minimize distortion due to minute imperfections.
This is great! Finally, a cloaking material. Where do I get a piece?
"trouble with national security for exploiting knowledge." Uhh, what? Are you ignorant or just living in Communist Russia? I'm confused. It's exactly that sort of inventor spirit that's gotten America where it is today. Doing anything that's already illegal with a "laser" isn't going to exacerbate the crime, moron.
You remind me of my old friends grandmother who went nuts over the Anarchist Cookbook. Terribad book by the way.
Very cool but expensive. Hopefully they can find peaceful uses for it and not just for the military.
NJDevil, I exploit my Webpages, Why the hell do you care?
This is really cool. Many of you mentioned the problems already but you should be a little optimistic.
Wow! I want 1 soz I can play in the freeway and not get hurt!
Yeah funny comment 4leftfeet since you got to be kidding.
Until people get more responible with thier personal lives-
Not living beyond their means (credit cards)
Giving freely of their time to a good cause goal.Not related to their job.
Helping people just because it's the right thing to do, or because if they don't do it, no one will, then things like this are NOT good things to have. Think about it. If we have this advantage,(spelled military) than others will feal threatned by it, etc.
optical technologies are on the forefront of new, inventive and helpful product development. Bottom line for inventors of meta
material and dielectric devices are not only production put profitability in applications. Possibilities are endless. ingenuity rules!
As far as I know, these meta-material cloaking schemes are done passively (i.e. with no energy supplied to the cloak.) If they cloak passively and completely, one can no more see out of the cloak than one can see into it. The cloak cannot make up for the energy absorbed by whatever is observing light from the outside. It will be interesting to see if anyone decides to couple this type of cloaking with an active type (e.g. involving video cameras or light sensitive materials) to make an even better "cloaking device."
It seems to me that, unless the cloak is perfect, this technology will act a lot like a generalized version of currently existing stealth technologies as far as direct militaristic applications go.
As has been alluded to in previous posts, the more interesting, practical, and potentially lucrative applications of this technology may be to more common things, anywhere you need to remove an object from view (especially if it is stationary and only needs to be cloaked over a narrow band of relatively low frequencies.)
Additionally, there are practical limits on the extendability of cloaks like this to high frequencies. In order to work, the meta-materials must contain features significantly smaller than the smallest wavelength they cloak. Since stable structures cannot be made arbitrarily small, I would think it would be nearly impossible to cloak with this technique at anything beyond far-UV frequencies.
Errr Guys I hate to be a wet blanket, naysayer, or skeptic,,,but as for a practical application for this technology,,,,,,I just don't see it.
Apple, please release a iPhone CLEAR!! :P You're talking on the phone but it doesn't look like you're holding anything.
It'll make people look more schizophrenic when talking into dead air then bluetooth headset.
I think this sort of thing might be helpful, but what if a future device fell into the wrong hands? Invisible terrorists- BAD!!
This is some pretty amazing tech. I wonder when it is going to go public?
Regardless of the technology that is being engineered to produce this "cloaking device", it is still in its infantile stages and will take several years to perfect. After the process is perfected, there will be years of research to make sure that it can perform its basic design, before it made available to the human race. Even then it will probably only be used in military tactics, that is if there is still a country to defend, and guerilla warfare. I applaud the inventors for their ideas of creating such a device, but as stated in several other comments there are a wealth, a virtual cornucopia of light wavelengths that would need to "bent". there are still wavelengths of light and radiation that human kind has no idea exist and probably will not know of until several decades or centuries in the future. We are still trying to figure out the best alternative to treating a host of diseases that plague the race and technology is trying to get it all done the best and fastest way possible. But like I said before it will be a long time coming before we see the true nature of this technology and fully understand the potential that it could produce. Sorry to dampen your perverted theories of localized house raids on unsuspecting young women or old men whatever you desire...
The concept of a personal cloaking device is enticing, think of tasks you could accomplish without being seen. God i bet if this thing really worked governments would be drooling to get their hands on it
Stop being so skeptical on the authenticity or wether or not it is practical. understand that if this works this might just be the key to the future of modern defense
I just think that everyone should just relax, don't just look for a practical purpose. Just think of everything someone could do with this technology. It might not matter because with most every military device there is a counter. Like the gun, you fight a war, you learn to wear a bullet-proof jacket. I'm sure that the inventors thought of a counter-device for use against "infidels". I just want you people to think about what you could do not what you can't. I'm sure producers put lots of thought into it. Just hear me out.
I think its cool.Because I wood be able to claok money.