A team of researchers at the US Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of California at Berkeley have created what they call “an ultra-thin invisibility ‘skin’ cloak” that can be wrapped around a three-dimensional object to render it optically undetectable.
Concepts like so have already been explored to some extent. Take for example, the “Rochester Cloak” that can make an area invisible when you look through a set of lenses at it or other metamaterials (artificial nanostructures engineered with electromagnetic properties not found in nature) that hide objects. The existing gizmos tend to be bulky and carpet-like. But, this new cloak is unique, one of a kind, much like Harry’s famous cloak. It is ultra-thin and is significantly thinner than skin at just 80 nanometers.
“This is the first time a 3D object of arbitrary shape has been cloaked from visible light,” Xiang Zhang, director of the Berkeley National Lab’s Materials Sciences Division, said in a statement. “Our ultra-thin cloak now looks like a coat. It is easy to design and implement, and is potentially scalable for hiding macroscopic objects.”
Right now, the cloak is microscopic and capable of hiding objects very tiny, but Zhang says the ultrathin design should be able to scale up to much larger sizes far more easily than the earlier, carpet-like cloaks. Its surface is meta-engineered to route light waves in such a way that the object is rendered invisible when the cloak is activated. The scientists say the result is identical to light being reflected off a flat mirror.
The only real difference between this cloak and J.K Rowling’s creation is that it will now be used for in optical microscopes, speedy optical computers, security encryption and in 3D displays, rather than being used to sneak around a huge castle eavesdropping on people.