Smh.com has released exciting news of research into what was once only the wackiest of daydreams of J.K Rowling and H.G Wells; Invisibility Cloaks.
Once only the party trick of our favourite Hogwarts student, now invisibility cloaks are set to become a reality thanks to new research conducted into metamaterials and the nature of light.
The theory of bending light around an object began about ten years ago when scientists, according to smh.com, “worked out that it would be possible to make artificial materials with tiny internal structures that would force light or other electromagnetic waves to travel along a desired, curved path rather than bounce off an object. Five years ago, the first of these cloaking devices was built using one of these metamaterials, which have optical properties that simply do not occur in nature.”
Thus, conceivably, scientists created the first “invisibility cloak”, a model for future research and development.
There are, however, drawbacks. The particle being cloaked has to be smaller than the wavelength of the light being bent around it, hence the use of microwaves, a relatively long wavelength. As such, the use of this technology on anything as big as a human is still in the future.
A variation of this technology, however, has been used to hide something as large as a paper-clip. According to smh.com, this is achieved by “putting it (paper-clip) under a bump in a metamaterial carpet that sits on a mirror. Light hitting the metamaterial is bent in such a way that it appears to be reflected off a flat surface and the bump disappears. This disguises the fact something is hidden under the carpet. These carpet cloaks have been developed for a range of wavelengths and Zhang’s natural calcite crystal prisms are another variation on this theme that works for visible light.”
This is not, however, true invisibility, as a large crystal is still visible, and the object only disappears under polarised light, not too handy in everyday use.
Despite this, scientists remain optimistic that one day, teenagers all over the world will be able to sneak off to engage in night-time tom-foolery just like Harry.
What makes smh.com such a useful and informative source, is its detailed technical information that it provides; “…glued two triangular pieces of a transparent mineral called calcite together to form a prism, which was placed on a mirror. The paper clip was hidden under a bump in the base, like something tucked under a carpet. The pathway of light through the prism gives the appearance that the base is flat, concealing the bump and the existence of the paper clip.”
Written in a professional and objective manner, it appears reliable and trustworthy source for the reader.
The best thing about the article is that it leaves the reader not being able to wait for the release of that magical, but now, entirely realistic object; the invisibility cloak. This effect is created throughout the body of the article, with the ending actually rather abrupt and unsatisfying.
Despite this, it is an excellent article, both fulfilling and informative.