Mere months after making a technologically feasible proposal, researchers have demonstrated a rudimentary example of an invisibility cloak. The device consists of a composite of metal and wires embedded in fiberglass and structured so as to make light behave in weird ways. David Schurig and David Smith of Duke University, along with their colleagues, designed concentric rings of this so-called metamaterial that bend microwave radiation around the innermost ring, like water flowing around a stone. The central ring absorbed and reflected microwaves less than it normally would have. “We've reduced both the reflection and the shadow generated by the object, and those are the two essential features of the invisibility cloaking,” Schurig says of their proof-of-concept, published in the November 10 Science. Getting the technology up and running was easier than they anticipated, the researchers say, but don't expect Harry Potter's cloak anytime soon.
This article was originally published with the title "I Don't See the Light" in Scientific American 296, 1, 28 (January 2007)