While it may not quite be up to the standard of Harry Potter’s magic cloak, the ‘cloak’ manages to hide objects by splitting light.
It is actually a lump of calcite crystal, which can make everyday objects such as pins and paperclips disappear from sight. While this may not sound like very much, previous attempts have only ucceeded at the micron level, which is much smaller than the thickness of a human hair.
The project was undertaken by physicists from the University of Birmingham and colleagues from Imperial College, London, and Technical University of Denmark. They have said that by using natural crystal, they can make bigger objects disappear than any other scientists have been able to before.
Essentially, the ‘cloak’ is two triangular pieces of calcite glued together and placed on a mirror. Light enter the crystal and splits into two rays of different polarisations travelling at different speeds and in different directions.
While the crystal itself remains visible, anything placed underneath it will be hidden.
The size of the cloaking area is apparently not limited by technology, but by the amount of crystal available, however the researchers are adamant that their findings could lead to more devices that could cloak much larger items.
Dr Shuang Zhang, who led the team said “This is a huge step forward as, for the first time, the cloaking area is rendered at a size that is big enough for the observer to ‘see’ the invisible object with the naked eye”
“By using natural crystals for the first time, rather than artificial meta-materials, we have been able to scale up the size of the cloak and can hide larger objects”
The research has been published in the journal Nature Communications in a paper titled ‘Macroscopic Invisibility Cloak of Visible Light’.