Invisibility cloaks: Are they soon to become a reality?

For the moment Harry Potter’s famous invisibility cloak will remain in the realms of fiction, but significant steps have been made towards the very first real life invisibility. Researchers at the Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory and the United States’ Department of Energy have found a way of creating an ultra-thin, skin-like invisibility cloak that is able to conform to the shape of any object and conceal it from detection.

Sound brilliant right? The only difference between the multitude of sic-fi cloaks and this real life contraption is that currently it only works at a microscopic scale. Having said that the principle behind it has huge potential, and should be able to be scaled up to a macroscopic scale.

This image shows how the cloak reflects visible light to conceal the shape beneath it.


The “skin-cloak” is barely 80 nanometers thick, and is made up of gold nano antennas that wrap around a material only a few cells thick.

An invisibility cloak isn’t the only thing this technology could one day give birth to. Being able to manipulate the way light interacts with metamaterials could open the door to high resolution optical microscopes and super fast optical computers. Another potential option is to use the the skin cloak to hide the layout of microelectronic components, or even for security encryption purposes.

This diagram shows how the cloaked area appears compared to the rest of the object


For more incredible facts, make sure you pick up the latest copy of How It Works. It’s available from all good retailers, or you can order it online from the ImagineShop. If you have a tablet or smartphone, you can also download the digital version onto your iOS or Android device. To make sure you never miss an issue of How It Works magazine, make sure you subscribe today!

Plus, take a look at:

How does invisible ink work?

Invisibility tech revealed