Scientists at Rochester University have made a huge breakthrough in creating what many only thought was the stuff of legend, by making an “invisibility cloak.” While it is not exactly like a “cloak” – okay, it is not a cloak of cloth at all the way that many have read about or seen such things in movies or television shows – it is, nonetheless, an invention that renders things invisible by disguising them from view completely. It has been described as the first cloaking device that is both three-dimensional and offers continuous cloaking. An object placed behind the layered lens seems to simply disappear from view.
The device was the invention of a resident professor of physics at Rochester University. Joseph Howell, as well as, Joseph Choi who is a graduate student there were able to successfully create the invisibility device using materials that cost less than $1,000, and they believe that it can be built for even cheaper than that. These researchers were able to accurately determine the lens type and power needed, as well as the very specific distance that the four lenses were to be separated from one another, in order to work successfully as an invisibility cloak. Essentially, the “invisibility cloak” bends light, sending it through to the center of the device so that the on-axis area cannot be blocked. In other words, the cloaked area is shaped almost like a bagel. While the device does have some rough edges, stronger lenses can alleviate this problem. These researchers have more sophisticated versions of the device that are more performing than the simpler model.
It was announced by the University of Rochester Newscenter that this device, the “invisibility cloak”, created by scientists at the University of Rochestor, can be made by using common, everyday things. For now, while a patent is still being processed on the invisibility cloak, simple instructions on how to build what is already being called a “Rochester Cloak” for yourself for $100, is available if you are so inclined.
There have been prior attempts to create just such a device in the past. However, these models tended to be much more expensive, more complicated, and generally far less effective. The Rochester cloak, on the other hand, disguises objects in 3-D, at most angles, and from a relatively close vantage point. The researchers have successfully cloaked a hand, a face, and a ruler. It also causes no distortion of the background object.
The “invisibility cloak” that the scientists from the University of Rochester created essentially has light pass around objects in such a way that it appears that they are not even there. It was hailed as the first ever device that essentially masks things from several vantage points – the first real, 3-D “invisibility cloak”. It could be advantageous for many, including for military, surgery, and interior design. Joseph Choi suggested that it could prove extremely beneficial to truck drivers who have difficulty seeing behind them while driving. The researchers say that the possibilities really are endless.
By Charles Bordeau
Photo credit: Lawrence Berkeley Nat’l Lab – Roy Kaltschmidt, photographer