April 4, 2016 10:46 am

The Ultrathin invisibility cloak for visible light can be used to conceal an object from view by guiding light around it, Invisibility cloak technology like in Predator can soon be real, reports the Xiang Zhang group of the Berkeley Lab at Science AAAS.

In the movie “Predator,” an alien uses an invisibility cloak technology to hide in plain sight, but the result is far from perfect: The alien’s hope to hide itself is thwarted by distortions of lighting bending around it. Now, researchers have built an ultrathin “invisibility cloak” that gets around this challenge, by turning objects into perfect, flat mirrors.

Invisibility Cloak Technology

“Nothing excites Harry Potter fans more than the desire of owning an invisibility cloak. Well, if all goes well, we may just get one”, says Anjali Bisaria from India Times.

invisibility cloak technology
An illustration of the ultrathin “invisibility” cloak. Light reflects off the cloak (shown by the red arrows) as if it were reflecting off a flat mirror. Credit: Courtesy of Xiang Zhang group, Berkeley Lab/UC Berkeley

Invisibility cloaks are designed to curve light around an item, but components that do this are usually hard to shape and only work from narrow angles.

Nevertheless the brand new cloak eliminates that problem, it is thin and flexible enough to be wrapped around an item of any form, the scientists explained. It may also be “tuned” to match regardless of what background is behind it — or can even produce illusions of what’s there, they added.

There is however one disadvantage: If Harry Potter were wearing this cloak, he’d have to stay still for it to work, because the tuning needs to be matched to the background.

Andrea Alù, an associate professor of electrical engineering at the University of Texas at Austin, has done substantial study on cloaking systems. He is skeptical that scientists can create the sort of illusion Zhang explains.

“They had a small object, a little bump,” Alù told Live Science. “With a larger object, I can’t take advantage of that … when I illuminate it, a portion is not illuminated; it’s in shadow.” As such, the illusion of the ideal reflector would be broken, he stated.

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This post was written by Nadia Vella