Scientists successfully cloak three-dimensional object in free space

By on January 26, 2012, 12:30 PM

Scientists at the University of Texas in Austin have successfully “cloaked” a three-dimensional object in free space for the first time. Unfortunately they were only able to do so for waves in the microwave region of the electromagnetic spectrum, meaning we can’t actually “view” the invisibility with the naked eye.

Previous attempts at cloaking have been limited to two-dimensional objects or simply theoretical in nature. In the latest experiment, researchers were able to hide a three-dimensional cylindrical tube roughly 7.1-inches in length and 1-inch in diameter from microwaves in any direction in a natural environment.

To accomplish this marvel of science, the tube was covered by a shell coated with a plasmonic metamaterial that scatters light and electromagnetic waves. The shell is able to precisely cancel the light scattered by an object. By effectively cancelling out any light that would normally scatter off an object, it appears transparent.

There are a few drawbacks, however. At present, the cloak can only hide dielectric objects, not metal. Furthermore as stated earlier, the effect only works for polarized microwave light and thus isn’t visible to the naked eye. As Martin Wegener suggests, one would have to put on polarizing goggles to appreciate the cloaking.

Andrea Alu, the University of Texas professor who worked on the project and co-author of a paper published in the Institute of Physics and German Physical Society's New Journal of Physics, believes that there are some real-world applications where such a cloak could be useful. Biomedical and optical near-field measurements could be greatly improved and in the future, aircraft could be coated with the material to appear invisible to all forms of radar in any direction.

User Comments: 16

Got something to say? Post a comment
Guest said:

cloaking that really isn't cloaking?

lipe123 said:

It's invisible cloaking! XD

fimbles fimbles said:

Quote "one would have to put on polarizing goggles to appreciate the cloaking"

Why not just wear a blindfold and everything becomes invisible?

Darth Shiv Darth Shiv said:

Guest said:

cloaking that really isn't cloaking?

Being invisible to radar isn't exactly useless

Mindwraith said:

awesome, now I can appear invisible to my perverted microwave that follows me everywhere.

Guest said:

We are one step closer to invisible police

Guest said:

Who said that?

Guest said:

I would add an LED to let us know when it is cloaked... or rather when it is not cloaked... but it would be a cloaked LED so you wouldn't be able to... never mind..

Guest said:

So it looks like cloaking at this point is really just

a farce made up by some reporter trying to make

a name for themselves. What you have descibed is

an overblown expensive parlor trick. Not impressed

at all! Get back to us when you've got something, not

theoretical mumbo jumbo.

tengeta tengeta said:

ok soldiers! as long as we trick them into wearing the special glasses you will remain invisible!

just like a 3d tv, a complete lie.

Guest said:

"Who said that? "

I did. Tell me, if it were possible for police to be invisible, why wouldn't they?

TechM633 said:

Guest said:

Who said that?

Now thats funny! LOL!

Guest said:

Remember, the "Laser" was first pioneered as a "Maser"--the effect was first demonstrated in the microwave spectrum. So stay tuned, folks.

Guest said:

Still useless. We need to hide metallic objects from RADAR. This doesn't do that, but the paint the military buys does do that. Redneck Rocket Science also did an episode where they used powdered charcoal to stealth their pickup from police RADAR. It worked.

Load all comments...

Add New Comment

TechSpot Members
Login or sign up for free,
it takes about 30 seconds.
You may also...
Get complete access to the TechSpot community. Join thousands of technology enthusiasts that contribute and share knowledge in our forum. Get a private inbox, upload your own photo gallery and more.