Apr 1, 2013
Researchers at the University of Texas are currently in the process of developing a material similar to the invisibility cloaks of science-fiction and fantasy. In a recent experiment, a research team led by Andrea Alu and others was able to successfully camouflage a roughly 18” tube from detection by microwaves by cloaking it in the material they have developed. It does so by disrupting, rather than merely redirecting, the waves.
At present time, however, this technology is far from being the kind of invisibility device that would match the popular imagination’s conception. The cloak works by having a miniscule pattern on its outside, which neutralizes the electromagnetic waves which bounce off of it. However, the pattern must roughly match the wavelength in order to function correctly, and as a result, only the tiniest of objects, those which are already so small as to be invisible to the naked eye, could be rendered invisible through this technique.
Nevertheless, the steady advance on this front suggests to many scientists that this type of technology may eventually become viable for use in camouflaging, especially for military uses. Of course, it could also lead to a national epidemic of [theft and robbery], so maybe it’s for the best that the invisibility cloak remains, for now, largely a figment of the imagination.