Saturday, 23 October 2010
11:17:09 PM (GMT)
Scientists have created an "invisibility cloak" - able to bend light around solid
objects - out of silk.
At the moment the cloak only works for light outside the visible spectrum, in the
terahertz band between radio and infrared. But its developers, at Boston University
and Tufts University, believe that it could be made to work at far smaller
wavelengths, possibly even including visible light, according to Discovery News.
The researchers hope it will have applications in medical science, as well as opening
the possibility of making people or objects invisible.
The "metamaterial" is made of silk covered in tiny gold structures, each a tiny
spiral known as a "split ring resonator" or SSR. SSRs have fascinating effects on
light - they can absorb, or reflect, all the light at a given wavelength, or bend
that light around an object.
While the researchers say it could be used for Harry Potter-style invisibility cloaks
for whole people, the medical angle is its most promising one. Radiologists could
cloak organs in the material, allowing them to see past to the hidden parts behind.
It could also be used as a blood glucose sensor for diabetes sufferers: as the levels
of glucose change, so will the metamaterial. The change can be transmitted as radio
(or other) waves and detected by a mobile phone.