Invisible Men Are Here

Invisible Men Are Here. Healthy Living Magazine

Invisible Men Are Here. Healthy Living Magazine

Invisibility of the human body, once thought to be a possibility within the realm of ghost tales and science fiction, is here. And it may well be available in our lifetimes.

Invisibility used to be the province of Star Trek or Harry Potter—but scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the University of California, Berkeley developed a nanogold skin cloak that conceals objects from visible light. To be sure, their experiment was done in microscopic size. But the principles for macroscopic application remain the same, they say.

Using gold nanoantenna blocks, the “skin cloak” was barely 80 nanometers in thickness and wrapped an object the size of a few human cells.

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“This is the first time a 3D object of arbitrary shape has been cloaked from visible light,” said Xiang Zhang, director of Berkeley Lab’s Materials Sciences Division, who develops artificial nanostructures engineered with electromagnetic properties not otherwise found in this world. “Our ultra-thin cloak now looks like a coat. It is easy to design and implement and is potentially scalable for hiding macroscopic objects.”

Vision is defined as the scattering of light as it interacts with matter. However all the rules we’ve known from physics are being thrown to the wind with metamaterials. These use physical structures rather than chemicals for their effect and so far the researchers have curved and even bent light backward. Besides being used in the dark arts and for clandestine purposes, the principles could lead to even faster computers and better cyber security. The cloak can be turned off with a switch that alters the nanoantennas’ polarization. Now what to do with body mass?

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ReferenceNi Xingjie, Wong ZJ, Mrejen M, Wang Y, Zhang X. An ultrathin invisibility skin cloak for visible light. Science, 2015 DOI: 10.1126/science.aac9411
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