Researchers ‘one step closer’ to cloaking device

15 Jul 2016

Researchers working on advanced composite materials believe they are now one step closer to creating a working cloaking device, but not as you know it.

The development of a cloaking device capable of making people and objects invisible has been the dream of science-fiction fans for decades, but the crushing reality of science-fact has left these hopes unrealised – for now.

There is some good news coming out of Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) where a team of researchers believe that they are one step closer to creating a practical cloaking device, publishing their findings in Scientific Reports.

Rather than making a battleship invisible to the naked eye, this development will make curved surfaces appear flat to electromagnetic waves which could allow for antennae in different shapes and sizes to be attached in awkward places and a wide variety of materials.

To do this, the QMUL team coated a test surface with a nanocomposite medium of seven distinct layers where each layer has a different electric property that varies depending on its current position. This creates a cloaking effect hiding whatever object is covered in this material rather than scattering the electromagnetic waves, which is what typically happens.

Useful for aerospace industry

In terms of potential applications, the researchers believe their findings will certainly benefit anyone manufacturing antennae or working in the aerospace industry.

“Previous research has shown this technique working at one frequency,” said co-author of this research, Prof Yang Hao in a released statement. “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.”

The next step, said first author Dr Luigi La Spada, is to apply this same technique to other materials.

“Perhaps most importantly, the approach used can be applied to other physical phenomena that are described by wave equations, such as acoustics,” he said. “For this reason, we believe that this work has a great industrial impact.”

Stealth bomber image via Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic