While it sounds like something out of a science fiction novel, scientists at the University of Texas at Austin have published a report on their research showing invisibility is actually possible in the real world. Their study was published in the New Journal of Physics, with the title “Demonstration of an Ultra-Low Profile Cloak for Scattering Suppression of a Finite-Length Rod in Free Space.”
As the article states, there have been various experiments performed of the last decade or so with the hopes of making invisibility a reality. However, this study applied a “mantle cloaking” technique that uses a metascreen to cloak an object. This metascreen is flexible polycarbonate film that features thin strips of copper tape attached in a diagonal fishnet pattern. By doing this, as opposed to previous experiments involving bending light rays around an object, researchers were able to make the object undetectable at all angles.
The 3D object used in this invisibility cloak experiment was a 7-inch long cylindrical tube, and it was hidden from view in microwave light. As Andrea Alu, a UT physicist, says about the mantle cloaking process, it has more potential in the future with its “ease of manufacturing and improved bandwidth.”
This discovery involving invisibility follows a similar finding more than a decade ago that another science fiction-inspired development — teleportation — had also been achieved in the laboratory, with scientists developing a method to effectively teleport light particles from one location to another.
Although mass use for the invisibility cloak is still a distant possibility, the results of this experiment make it seem more likely than ever before. The most obvious application of such a technology would be for military research and development, where the ability to cloak soldiers and vehicles would have a devastating impact on the battlefield.