Professor Elena Semouchkina and her team at Michigan Tech U have worked out a way to cloak small objects - without their grant funding disappearing.
Let's not bandy words here - cloaking technology is hot. Whether you're a Potter fan, a Star Trek geek, or liked that really terrible Kevin Bacon movie, you know you wish you could be invisible. As with anything that little nerds and nerdettes are interested in, science tends to get done surrounding it once these same gender-neutral nerds grow up and get themselves PhD's.
Cloaking has been on the science radar for a while now, and several prototypes have been able to cloak small objects using a combination of metal rings and wires. Essentially, objects were surrounded with rings, a current was fired up and presto, disappearing whatever.
But Semouchkina took a different approach. Instead of using metal, she used what are known as metamaterials - objects that are not found in nature and do not have naturally-occurring properties. Her current cloak houses a series of tiny chalcogenide glass resonators in concentric pattern and a cylindrical shape. These resonators are dielectric, which means that they do not conduct electricity.
When the glass is hit by infrared waves, the resonators produce a magnetic resonance that is able to route visible light around the cylinder and any obejcts that lie inside it.
Now, the team is testing a series of ceramic resonators that can use microwaves to produce the necessary resonance effect. The hope is to move out of the invisible and food-cooking light wavelengths and up on into the visible light spectrum. Once this happens, an object with the proper resonators would simply vanish when exposed to normal, ordinary, boring old light.
Ceramic Resonators: Cloaky!
While the Michigan Tech team says that a real-world application of a cloak that uses the visible light range is still years away, we can't help but wonder if maybe they head home after a long day at the lab, don metamaterial bodysuits, and go live it up.
A nerd can dream...