There’s a certain appeal that has always come with the possibility of coming upon the power of invisibility. Often considered a “holy grail” by scientific researchers, invisibility makes a regular appearance in published papers claiming to take us a step closer to that dream.
One of the latest pieces on the matter was featured last week in the journal Scientific Reports, discussing the chances of making an object “disappear” under a coat of substance that can change the said object’s physical properties.
Yang Hao, the co-author of the study from Queen Mary University of London’s School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science, explains that “the design is based upon transformation optics, a concept behind the idea of the invisibility cloak.”
Harry Potter’s most prized possession could become real
For those unfamiliar with the term, the cloak he refers to is the one making a regular appearance in Harry Potter, the popular book series by J.K. Rowling. The lead character has inherited it from his father; it helps him eavesdrop and hide from his adversaries.
The design proposed by Hao does not claim such universal camouflage – science is still far from that target. Instead, the substance turns curved objects flat in terms of how electromagnetic waves see them.
However, because this project benefits from a partnership with British industry, the device has a higher likelihood of being used in practical applications.
Manipulating surface waves leads to invisibility powers
Dr. Hao added that while previous research has managed to get the technique working at a single frequency, his advancements are proof that it also works at a greater range of frequencies.
When electromagnetic waves travel on a flat surface, the signal is disrupted and the wave scatters when it encounters a protruding in the said surface. This allows the object to be detected and visible.
But with the researchers’ finding, they were able to make a cloak of “nanocomposite medium,” which coats the curved surface with seven different layers. This special substance vastly reduces the scattering of the electromagnetic waves when it encounters the object.
Manipulating surface waves could be the key to new solutions for industrial and technological designs.
Image Source: Harry Potter Wikia