Magnetic invisibility cloak shields magnets from magnetic fields

December 3, 2015 by Lisa Zyga report
The bilayer cloak consists of an inner superconducting shell and an outer ferromagnetic shell, whose opposite effects on an external magnetic field completely cancel each other out to shield a cloaked magnetic object (yellow) from the external magnetic field. Credit: Zhu, et al. ©2015 Nature Communications

(Phys.org)—Typically when two magnets are brought close together, they either attract or repel each other due to interactions between their magnetic fields. In a new study, researchers have designed a 3D magnetic invisibility cloak, inside of which they placed a magnetic object, and showed that the cloaked magnet is no longer affected by nearby magnetic fields. It appears as if the cloaked magnet has become demagnetized, but in reality the magnet is simply hidden.

The researchers, led by Yungui Ma at Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China, have published a paper titled "Three-dimensional magnetic cloak working from d.c. to 250 kHz" in a recent issue of Nature Communications. Like other invisibility cloaks, the new cloak is made of metamaterials (man-made materials with repeating patterns) and works by manipulating electromagnetic waves in unusual ways.

To achieve the cloaking effect, the researchers used a new type of invisibility cloak called a bilayer cloak, first demonstrated in 2012 by Alvaro Sanchez and colleagues at the Autonomous University of Barcelona. The cloak has a spherical structure consisting of two shells: a superconducting inner shell (made of single-crystal YBCO) and a ferromagnetic outer shell (made of a nickel zinc composite).

These two materials have opposite magnetic behaviors, which causes them to have opposite effects on an external : the inner YBCO shell expels the magnetic field, while the outer nickel zinc shell concentrates it. By carefully machining, etching, fine-tuning, and combining these materials, the researchers were able to completely cancel out the opposing effects, inducing the magnetic transparency effect.

"In an optimum state, these two counteractions (expelling and attracting) can be totally balanced so that their combination will have no disturbance on the at low frequencies," Ma told Phys.org.

The magnetic could have applications in biological experiments and magnetically sensitive equipment, as it could protect living organisms and other objects from magnetic fields while allowing the magnetic fields to pass undistorted around the objects. It could also be used as an "anti-probe technology" to allow magnetic or metallic objects to pass through metal detectors without setting them off.

However, the researchers caution that the current design is still far from the application stage. The biggest problem is that the superconductor YBCO must be cooled in liquid nitrogen to around 90 K for the cloak to function. The researchers are working on this problem, among others.

"In addition, we are not clear how the cloaking effect will become when the probing (or incident) field becomes very inhomogeneous spatially," Ma said. "In our theory, we have assumed a uniform incident field."

Despite these challenges, the new still looks promising for commercial applications.

"Their article is a nice extension of our works on magnetic cloaks," said Sanchez, who was not affiliated with this study. "Their work represents another demonstration that d.c. and low-frequency regions of the electromagnetic spectrum may be some of the best cases for actual applications of cloaks. Because static and low-frequency magnetic fields are crucial in many technologies, from medicine to information technology to security, the magnetic cloaking results may have important applications in actual technologies."

Explore further: Nearly perfect, ultrathin invisibility cloak could have wide practical applications

More information: Jianfei Zhu, et al. "Three-dimensional magnetic cloak working from d.c. to 250 kHz." Nature Communications. DOI: 10.1038/ncomms9931

Related Stories

One size cloaks all

November 21, 2012

A metamaterial invisibility cloak that can adapt to hide different sized objects is demonstrated by in Nature Communications this week. The findings represent a useful advance for more practical applications of metamaterial ...

New invisibility cloak hides objects from human view

July 27, 2011

For the first time, scientists have devised an invisibility cloak material that hides objects from detection using light that is visible to humans. The new device is a leap forward in cloaking materials, according to a report ...

Recommended for you

Researchers improve qubit lifetime for quantum computers

December 8, 2016

An international team of scientists has succeeded in making further improvements to the lifetime of superconducting quantum circuits. An important prerequisite for the realization of high-performance quantum computers is ...

A nano-roundabout for light

December 8, 2016

Just like in normal road traffic, crossings are indispensable in optical signal processing. In order to avoid collisions, a clear traffic rule is required. A new method has now been developed at TU Wien to provide such a ...

Electron highway inside crystal

December 8, 2016

Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

baudrunner
not rated yet Dec 03, 2015
Demonstrating what is known as the Aharonov-Bohm effect, the trajectory of a finely tuned beam of charged particles changes shape when it is passed outside of an induced magnetic field, as in when an electrical current is passed through a solenoid, even though the beam is being confined to a region in which both the electric and magnetic energies are zero. No forces are acting on the electron beam even though it is obvious that it is still affected by the presence of a shielded solenoid. A phase change of the photonic wavelength occurs when a current is passed through the solenoid.

I would like to know the results of an experiment to see if this AB effect holds true when this particular cloaking device is used.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.