Now You See It, Now You Don’t: Another Cloaking Device

Now You See It, Now You Don’t: Another Cloaking Device


What looks like a hairbrush but can make things disappear?

No, it’s not something out of the Klingon Technical Manual. We’re talking about a cloaking device here, and we’re talking about something in the real world. Well, as real as it gets in theoretical terms.

A group of Purdue University scientists have announced a concept for a so-called cloaking device that can make a solid object invisible. Not only would you not be able to see the object being “cloaked,” you would be able to see whatever is behind it. Now that’s invisible.

This light-bending device is said to resemble a round hairbrush, although it sounds more like a wheel, with a central spoke sprouting a circular collection of nano-needles that bend light around whatever is inside the “cloak,” so it appears to not be there at all.

What’s stopping this from becoming a reality next Tuesday? Well, there’s that small problem of the cloaking working on only one wavelength so far. Tests on the design have confirmed that it could work on the 632.8-nanometer wavelength, which is red in common parlance. So if you’re wearing a bright red jacket that covers your lower body, you’ll appear to be a floating head.

Then there’s the problem of size. The graphics that make up the designs for this device might be life-size, but the target of the design itself isn’t; rather, it’s in the micron range. So we’re really talking about just a speck of red.

If this sounds like something you’ve read before, it probably is. We did write about something like this last May. This latest research builds on that to a certain extent, inching us forward toward a true-blue cloaking experience.

It’s a long way from a Bird of Prey, but it’s a place to start.