Researchers tout glass invisibility cloak

Metamaterials key to new cloaking research

Using magnetic resonance technology and glass material, a team of researchers Michigan Tech and Penn State says they can create a cloak that will make objects invisible to human eyes. 

According to the Michigan Tech News and a paper published on the topic, the researchers said they have developed a "nonmetallic cloak that uses identical glass resonators made of chalcogenide glass, a type of non-conducting glass material. In computer simulations, the cloak made objects hit by infrared waves-approximately one micron or one-millionth of a meter long-disappear from view," the researchers stated. The researchers said they have cloaked metal cylinders two to three inches in diameter and three to four inches high.   

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Elena Semouchkina, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at Michigan Tech said: Earlier attempts by other researchers used metal rings and wires. "Ours is the first to do the cloaking of cylindrical objects with glass."

Time magazine called an invisibility cloak made by scientists at UC Berkeley one of the top inventions of 2008.  Those researchers  engineered two materials - one using a fishnet of metal layers, the other using tiny silver wires - that neither absorb nor reflect light, causing it instead to bend backward. The principle at work is refraction, which is what makes a straw appear bent in a glass of water, Time stated.

The Michigan Tech  invisibility cloak uses metamaterials--artificial substances with properties that do not exist in nature-- made of tiny glass resonators arranged in a concentric pattern in the shape of a cylinder. The "spokes" of the concentric configuration produce the magnetic resonance required to bend light waves around an object, making it invisible, the researchers stated.

Metamaterials are one of the keys to the research, which is in part funded by the National Science Foundation.   "Development of low-loss all-dielectric metamaterials with new functionalities will trigger innovative solutions for radio frequency, microwave, and photonic devices and systems. This work will impact communication, imaging, medical, and homeland security equipment," the NSF stated.

From the MTN story: So one day, could the police cloak a swat team or the Army, a tank?  "It is possible in principle, but not at this time," Semouchkina said.

Follow Michael Cooney on Twitter: nwwlayer8  

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