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Scientists create cloak of invisibility
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Scientists create cloak of invisibility - October 20, 2006, 01:24 AM

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WASHINGTON - Scientists are boldly going where only fiction has gone before to develop a Cloak of Invisibility. It isn't quite ready to hide a Romulan space ship from Capt. James T. Kirk or to disguise Harry Potter, but it is a significant start and could show the way to more sophisticated designs.

In this first successful experiment, researchers from the United States and England were able to cloak a copper cylinder. It's like a mirage, where heat causes the bending of light rays and cloaks the road ahead behind an image of the sky.
"We have built an artificial mirage that can hide something from would-be observers in any direction," said cloak designer David Schurig, a research associate in Duke University's electrical and computer engineering department.
For their first attempt, the researchers designed a cloak that prevents microwaves from detecting objects. Like light and radar waves, microwaves usually bounce off objects, making them visible to instruments and creating a shadow that can be detected.
Cloaking used special materials to deflect radar or light or other waves around an object, like water flowing around a smooth rock in a stream. It differs from stealth technology, which does not make an aircraft invisible but reduces the cross-section available to radar, making it hard to track.
The new work points the way for an improved version that could hide people and objects from visible light.
Conceptually, the chance of adapting the concept to visible light is good, Schurig said in a telephone interview. But, he added, "From an engineering point of view it is very challenging."
The cloaking of a cylinder from microwaves comes just five months after Schurig and colleagues published their theory that it should be possible. Their work is reported in a paper in Friday's issue of the journal Science.
"We did this work very quickly ... and that led to a cloak that is not optimal," said co-author David R. Smith, also of Duke. "We know how to make a much better one."
The first working cloak was in only two dimensions and did cast a small shadow, Smith said. The next step is to go for three dimensions and to eliminate any shadow.
Viewers can see things because objects scatter the light that strikes them, reflecting some of it back to the eye.
"The cloak reduces both an object's reflection and its shadow, either of which would enable its detection," Smith said.
The cloak is made of metamaterials, which are mixtures of metal and circuit board materials such as ceramic, Teflon or fiber composite.
In an ideal situation, the cloak and the item it is hiding would be invisible. An observer would see whatever is beyond them, with no evidence the cloaked item exists.
"Since we do not have a perfect cloak at this point, there is some reflection and some shadow, meaning that the background would still be visible just darkened somewhat. ... We now just need to improve the performance of cloaking structures."
In a very speculative application, he added, "one could imagine 'cloaking' acoustic waves, so as to shield a region from vibration or seismic activity."
Natalia M. Litchinitser, a researcher at the University of Michigan department of electrical engineering and computer science who was not part of the research team, said the ideas raised by the work "represent a first step toward the development of functional materials for a wide spectrum of civil and military applications."
Joining Schurig and Smith in the project were researchers at Imperial College in London and SensorMetrix, a materials and technology company in San Diego.
The research was supported by the Intelligence Community Postdoctoral Research Fellowship Program and the United Kingdom Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.


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October 20, 2006, 06:41 AM

Daym.....i wanta cloak my bike from the idot cagers in Va!


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October 20, 2006, 06:42 AM

BTW ....where did this article come from?


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October 20, 2006, 07:11 AM

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October 20, 2006, 08:58 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by ViperPilot
Daym.....i wanta cloak my bike from the idot cagers in Va!
You are already invisible to the drivers in VA

I don't see this technology being used anytime soon, i'm sure it's cost prohibitive and if they're using heat to mask something it'll show up on IR like a christmas tree.


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October 20, 2006, 09:37 AM

There are other ways to visually and IR cloak something...trust me, metamaterials, the problem is, the material structure has to be designed for the shape, they did it in RF for a cylinder...somewhat different than a complex shape and/or a flexible one, and VERY different in visible, as the only non-ordinarily behaving that have been constructed as visible wavelengths are photonic crystals, which have substantially different properties


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October 20, 2006, 09:40 AM

How did I know Marc would post in this thread?


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October 20, 2006, 09:46 AM

I remember talking to Marc about this stuff last year at American Cafe.... hmmm.....
Marc, are you a fortune teller?!


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October 20, 2006, 09:48 AM

Personally I was waiting for Marc to chime in about how he made one of these for a science fair project back in 5th grade but that punk bitch with the working volcano using baking soda won 1st prize.


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October 20, 2006, 09:51 AM

They have also tried to cloak an entire battleship.

It's my month

Enjoy!

Opps!

Quote:
Originally Posted by ViperPilot
BTW ....where did this article come from?
Yahoo News


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October 20, 2006, 10:21 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Drgnfiend
Personally I was waiting for Marc to chime in about how he made one of these for a science fair project back in 5th grade but that punk bitch with the working volcano using baking soda won 1st prize.
working volcano my ass...bitch talked to plants! j/k

there is some interesting work being done in the metamaterial / photonic crystal area, the theory is pretty damn neat, the hard part is implementation, you need to design the material (which in this case is a 3-D RCL network) to have the right properties...at the right frequencies...while that is relatively simple for microwave / RF (when the actual material properties of the individual components are not as important as their macroscopic layout--like an inductor for example), for shorter wavelengths like IR and Visible, its near impossible--without tailored nano-materials, which, are a ways away (photonic crystals are as close as we are getting these days), also, for a cylinder, the overall geometry is simple--I can see this workign for relatively simple shapes where the design can be computationally determined, but more complex or flexible shapes would require dynamic reconfiguration of the RCL properties of the network

yes finch, we were talking about this, or rather, the implementation I was working on a few years ago...plagued with some of the same problems (only works at sepecific wavelengths, etc)


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October 20, 2006, 10:56 AM

Microwaves guys...not visible light. I think IR is still months/1 year away and visible light could be some time. Most engineers will tell you that size creates exponential problems. A cylinder in the microwave frequency is one thing...a body (which presents other problems entirely) or an aircraft (yet, more variables) is a much bigger accomplishment. Apprently the next step is 3D application (the pic above and this milestone was done in 2D).

Anyway, sorry I know this is head-exploding kind of talk, but I have heard quite a bit about this and it is a very interesting concept, but don't be fooled, this isn't going to be an available option from BMW, Mercedes, or Lexus any time in the near future.


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