New York scientists unveil 'invisibility cloak' to rival Harry Potter's

Fri Sep 26, 2014 9:43pm EDT
 
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By Caurie Putnam

ROCHESTER N.Y. (Reuters) - Watch out Harry Potter, you are not the only wizard with an invisibility cloak.

Scientists at the University of Rochester have discovered a way to hide large objects from sight using inexpensive and readily available lenses, a technology that seems to have sprung from the pages of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter fantasy series.

Cloaking is the process by which an object becomes hidden from view, while everything else around the cloaked object appears undisturbed.

"A lot of people have worked on a lot of different aspects of optical cloaking for years," John Howell, a professor of physics at the upstate New York school, said on Friday.

The so-called Rochester Cloak is not really a tangible cloak at all. Rather the device looks like equipment used by an optometrist. When an object is placed behind the layered lenses it seems to disappear.

Previous cloaking methods have been complicated, expensive, and not able to hide objects in three dimensions when viewed at varying angles, they say.

"From what, we know this is the first cloaking device that provides three-dimensional, continuously multidirectional cloaking," said Joseph Choi, a graduate student who helped develop the method at Rochester, which is renowned for its optical research.

In their tests, the researchers have cloaked a hand, a face, and a ruler – making each object appear "invisible" while the image behind the hidden object remains in view. The implications for the discovery are endless, they say.   Continued...

 
A cloaking device using four lenses developed by University of Rochester physics professor John Howell and graduate student Joseph Choi is demonstrated in Rochester, New York in this September 11, 2014 University of Rochester.REUTERS/J. Adam Fenster/University of Rochester/Handout via Reuters