WASHINGTON – Top scientists in Israel are on the verge of a revolutionary breakthrough, creating a cloak that can render a person invisible.
In their real-world quest for invisibility, scientists at Ben-Gurion University have developed a device that scatters light away from an object so it cannot be detected, making the object invisible to the eye.
Physicists developed the method for concealing objects based on the study of “metamaterials,” which focuses on exploiting and controlling light by examining how it interacts with objects.
Those arrays of minuscule components bend, scatter, transmit or otherwise shape electromagnetic radiation in ways that no natural material can, according to Nature.com.
Bending electromagnetic radiation, such as light, around an object, gives the appearance that the object isn’t there at all, but still can be located by infrared sensors or radar.
Invisibility technology relies on an “operational cloaking chip” deflecting and scattering light away from the chip’s surface, so it is not detected, explained Dr. Alina Karabchevsky, the lead scientist behind the study which is in Nature Scientific Reports.
“These results open the door to new integrated photonic devices, harnessing electromagnetic fields of light at nanoscale for a variety of applications from on-chip optical devices to all-optical processing,” said Karabchevsky in the report. “We showed that it is possible to bend the light around an object located on the cloak on an optical chip. The light does not interact with the object, thus resulting in the object’s invisibility.”
The invisibility method is still only in its earliest stages, on the nano level, manipulating light only around a tiny chip.
Once researchers to overcome the significant challenge of developing a prototype, the technology could be implemented in the military, alongside technologies such as radar-absorbing dark paint on stealth aircraft, local optical camouflage, surface cooling to prevent infrared detection, and electromagnetic wave scattering.
“We proposed the new composite plasmonic waveguide scheme with dielectic nano-spacer based on the transformation optics principles to manipulate with light and distort the evanescent fields in a controllable manner to conceal an object,” the report reads. “The plasmonic metasurface is placed on the composite plasmonic waveguide with the nano-spacer. High dielectric nano-spacer made of Si has contributed to the light confinement in vicinity with the metasurface boundary and facilitated the coupling to the hybrid plasmonic modes. The light manipulation is realized due to the engineered effective permittivity which in turn avoids the scattering effect.”
The race for invisibility technology globally underway.
Researchers from the University of Rochester in New York have released a video in 2016 demonstrating how you can now move an object cloaked by a device they created and it still remains hidden to the human eye.
The U.S. Department of Energy used metamaterials in 2015 to create an invisibility “skin cloak” that conforms to the size of an object and conceals it from detection.
Researchers were only able to cloak miniscule objects, but estimated they would be able to conceal large objects and develop more practical use of the technology in 10 years.