Don't look now, but Harry Potter's invisibility cloak just got a big step closer

A new device makes curved objects appear flat to electromagnetic waves, helping them escape detection

Harry Potter fans, take note: Scientists have made an object "disappear" using a cloaking device similar in many ways to the invisibility cloak imagined by author J.K. Rowling.

Researchers from the School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science at the Queen Mary University of London worked with U.K. industry recently to demonstrate a device that allows curved surfaces to appear flat to electromagnetic waves. It's not an invisibility cloak just yet, but it could bring the much-yearned-for item closer to reality.

Harry Potter's cloak played a key role in many of his adventures in Rowling's best-selling series, allowing him not just to eavesdrop but also to escape detection by adversaries.

QMUL's design is based on transformation optics, a concept behind the idea of the invisibility cloak, said Yang Hao, a professor at the university.

To achieve their result, the researchers coated a curved surface with a nanocomposite medium made up of seven distinct layers, where the electric property of each varies depending on its position. Whereas normally curves in an object would scatter electromagnetic waves and make its presence obvious, that didn't happen to the object coated with this medium. Instead, it appeared "flat," effectively cloaking it from detection.

"Previous research has shown this technique working at one frequency," Hao said. "However, we can demonstrate that it works at a greater range of frequencies, making it more useful for other engineering applications such as nano-antennas and the aerospace industry."

A paper describing the work was published Friday in the journal Scientific Reports.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags gadgetsmilitary

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Katherine Noyes

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Father’s Day Gift Guide

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?