Now You See It, Now You Don't -- an Invisibility Cloak Made of Glass

Jul 21, 2010 By Jennifer Donovan
Elena Semouchkina holds the glass resonators that enable her to make objects appear invisible.

(PhysOrg.com) -- From Tolkien's ring of power in The Lord of the Rings to Star Trek's Romulans, who could make their warships disappear from view, from Harry Potter's magical cloak to the garment that makes players vanish in the video game classic Dungeons and Dragons, the power to turn someone or something invisible has fascinated mankind. But who ever thought that a scientist at Michigan Technological University would be serious about building a working invisibility cloak?

That’s exactly what Elena Semouchkina, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at Michigan Tech, is doing. She has found ways to use to capture rays of visible light and route them around objects, rendering those objects invisible to the human eye.

Semouchkina and colleagues at the Pennsylvania State University, where she is also an adjunct professor, recently reported on their research in the journal , published by the American Institute of Physics. Her co-authors were Douglas Werner and Carlo Pantano of Penn State and George Semouchkin, who works at Michigan Tech and Penn State.

They describe developing a nonmetallic cloak that uses identical glass resonators made of chalcogenide glass, a type of dielectric material (one that does not conduct electricity). In computer simulations, the cloak made objects hit by infrared waves—approximately one micron or one-millionth of a meter long—disappear from view.

Earlier attempts by other researchers used metal rings and wires. “Ours is the first to do the cloaking of cylindrical objects with glass,” Semouchkina said.

Her uses , which are having properties that do not exist in nature, made of tiny glass resonators arranged in a concentric pattern in the shape of a cylinder. The “spokes” of the concentric configuration produce the magnetic resonance required to bend around an object, making it invisible.

Metamaterials, which use small resonators instead of atoms or molecules of natural materials, straddle the boundary between materials science and electrical engineering. They were named one of the top three physics discoveries of the decade by the American Physical Society. A new researcher specializing in metamaterials is joining Michigan Tech’s faculty this fall.

Semouchkina and her team now are testing an invisibility cloak re-scaled to work at microwave frequencies and made of ceramic resonators. They’re using Michigan Tech’s anechoic chamber, a cave-like compartment in an Electrical Energy Resources Center lab, lined with highly absorbent charcoal-gray foam cones. There, antennas transmit and receive microwaves, which are much longer than infrared light, up to several centimeters long. They have cloaked metal cylinders two to three inches in diameter and three to four inches high.

“Starting from these experiments, we want to move to higher frequencies and smaller wavelengths,” the researcher said. “The most exciting applications will be at the frequencies of visible light.”

So one day, could the police cloak a swat team or the Army, a tank? “It is possible in principle, but not at this time,” Semouchkina said.

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User comments : 17

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LariAnn
3 / 5 (7) Jul 21, 2010
Perhaps it is not too early to start working on the kind of laws that must be put in place to protect the citizenry from unauthorized snooping while cloaked, or illegal cloaking for unlawful purposes, to pose just two examples.
Skultch
5 / 5 (1) Jul 21, 2010
Perhaps it is not too early to start working on the kind of laws that must be put in place to protect the citizenry from unauthorized snooping while cloaked, or illegal cloaking for unlawful purposes, to pose just two examples.


I'm not sure that's such a big deal. There are already laws that would apply like the 4th amendment and conspiracy laws. It does bring up the question of what is "a reasonable expectation of privacy" that is inherent in 4th amendment cases. I'm not sure what situation would apply here, though.
NickFun
5 / 5 (4) Jul 21, 2010
Maybe once the consumer gets ahold of this product he wil be able to mask his contraband hidden in the trunk. "See officer? Nothing!"

More likely it will be used by the military to kill people.
kevinrtrs
Jul 22, 2010
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
MarkyMark
3 / 5 (1) Jul 22, 2010
Maybe once the consumer gets ahold of this product he wil be able to mask his contraband hidden in the trunk. "See officer? Nothing!"

More likely it will be used by the military to kill people.

There will probably be a way of detecting a cloaking effect that could be used as a sort of scanner. Also i agree i can see the milatary developing an Assasins cloak like a ninjas uniform and training such agents in such methods of stealphy killing. Personally i feel that such tech may be to expensive for mass production hence the creation of Elite units.
Ethelred
5 / 5 (1) Jul 22, 2010
In case nobody else actually read the article it doesn't say that anyone made anything. So everyone's post has been irrelevant. Especially kevinrtrs as usual since he was preaching nonsense.

The key line in the article:
In computer simulations, the cloak made objects hit by infrared waves—approximately one micron or one-millionth of a meter long—disappear from view.


SIMULATED is not TESTED. Or made its about as real as the Lord of the Rings or Kevin's beliefs.

Do let us know when someone actually MAKES something that does what the title claimed.

An accurate title would have been

Now You DON'T See It, Now You Don't see it anyway its a simulation of an Invisibility Cloak NOT Made of Glass OF ANYTHING.

Ethelred

Who is tired of bogus titles at Physorg.bogus

Brevity is the way to cover up incompetence by claiming that there isn't space in the Margin.
Ethelred
1 / 5 (1) Jul 22, 2010
In case nobody else actually read the article it doesn't say that anyone made anything. So everyone's post has been irrelevant. Especially kevinrtrs, as usual, since he was preaching nonsense.

The key line in the article:
In computer simulations, the cloak made objects hit by infrared waves—approximately one micron or one-millionth of a meter long—disappear from view.


SIMULATED is not TESTED. Or made its about as real as the Lord of the Rings or Kevin's beliefs.

Do let us know when someone actually MAKES something that does what the title claimed.

An accurate title would have been

Now You DON'T See It, Now You Don't see it anyway its a simulation of an Invisibility Cloak NOT Made of Glass OR OF ANYTHING AT ALL.

Ethelred

Who is tired of bogus titles at Physorg

Brevity is the way to cover up incompetence by claiming that there isn't space in the Margin.
Ethelred
1 / 5 (1) Jul 22, 2010
In case nobody else actually read the article it doesn't say that anyone made anything. So everyone's post has been irrelevant. Especially kevinrtrs, as usual, since he was preaching nonsense.

The key line in the article:
In computer simulations, the cloak made objects hit by infrared waves approximately one micron or one millionth of a meter long-disappear from view.


SIMULATED is not TESTED. Or made its about as real as the Lord of the Rings or Kevin's beliefs.

Do let us know when someone actually MAKES something that does what the title claimed.

An accurate title would have been

Now You DON'T See It, Now You Don't see it anyway its a simulation of an Invisibility Cloak NOT Made of Glass OR OF ANYTHING AT ALL.

Ethelred

Who is tired of bogus titles at Physorg

Brevity is the way to cover up incompetence by claiming that there isn't space in the Margin.
Husky
5 / 5 (1) Jul 22, 2010
Rumor is that they had a working prototype, but they could not show it, because it cloaked itself and disappeared from view.
danman5000
5 / 5 (1) Jul 22, 2010
There are two problems with invisibility cloaks, which I'm not sure many people realize. One is that they only work for a very narrow band of frequencies. We would have to expand this greatly in order to cover the full visible spectrum, and even then it's likely that you could just use an infared camera to see right through it. The other, larger problem is that anything inside the cloak would be completely blind. While the wearer could possibly use a camera that sees in a different frequency than the cloak bends, this just brings us back to the first problem. So, it's likely impossible to make a perfect invisibility cloak for military or personal use, despite how interesting this research is.
Smellyhat
not rated yet Jul 22, 2010
"Elena Semouchkina holds the glass resonators that enable her to make objects appear invisible."

Caption of photograph is false.
hje
3.7 / 5 (3) Jul 22, 2010
Re: "It's that wrath of God that will ultimately remove sin from the human race forever."

Moderators, please remove these sort of irrelevant comments from a science forum. There are plenty of other more relevant forums for posters to submit their "rants."
Mr_Man
not rated yet Jul 22, 2010
Isn't it interesting? We invent brilliant technology and one of the first things that needs to be considered is how to avoid the evil that's inherent in the human race.

There is only one solution for the sinful nature of man. But not many want to accept it. "It" being the free gift of life provided for against the coming wrath of God. It's that wrath of God that will ultimately remove sin from the human race forever.
OK, that's the rant for the day. Great work by Elena. I hope she gets to the place of actually being able to have a cloak of wearable woven glass fibre working one day.


I'm conflicted with whether or not I should flag your post.. religious preaching in article comments doesn't really work well in any non-religious websites.
boldone894
2.3 / 5 (3) Jul 22, 2010
.../SNIP/...

There is only one solution for the sinful nature of man. But not many want to accept it. "It" being the free gift of life provided for against the coming wrath of God. It's that wrath of God that will ultimately remove sin from the human race forever.
OK, that's the rant for the day. Great work by Elena. I hope she gets to the place of actually being able to have a cloak of wearable woven glass fibre working one day.

Religion is the cause of most wars. If we get rid of religions, most wars would disappear anyway. When members of the US military are handing out US sanctioned bibles, while riding tanks, it tells you right there all you need to know. Simply put, we were fighting the crusades all over again with the spoils being oil and control over a part of the middle east.

Kudos for the brilliant undertaking of optics to do what people have wished for centuries. It is truly amazing what science can do when exercised!
james11
1 / 5 (2) Jul 23, 2010
Religion is a major cause of plenty of bad blood and wars but we will never get rid of religion. As I said before, realize this and move on. I have friends of different religions why cant the world do the same? Sad. We ACT like we would do anything as a species to preserve our species and survive haha.
raffi12
5 / 5 (1) Jul 25, 2010
Religion doesn't cause wars, that's silly. It may be abused as a way to provide recruitment or motivation. But wars are primarily driven by politics.
Shootist
1 / 5 (2) Jul 26, 2010
Perhaps it is not too early to start working on the kind of laws that must be put in place to protect the citizenry from unauthorized snooping while cloaked, or illegal cloaking for unlawful purposes, to pose just two examples.


I'm not sure that's such a big deal. There are already laws that would apply like the 4th amendment and conspiracy laws. It does bring up the question of what is "a reasonable expectation of privacy" that is inherent in 4th amendment cases. I'm not sure what situation would apply here, though.


Consider that, in the US, any "right of privacy" is imagined, not extant. IOW, privacy is not among the enumerated rights listed in the Constitution.
Skultch
not rated yet Jul 26, 2010
Consider that, in the US, any "right of privacy" is imagined, not extant. IOW, privacy is not among the enumerated rights listed in the Constitution.


The first sentence is false, the second true. A judge can and will disallow evidence if it was obtained without a warrant where a person had a "reasonable expectation of privacy." An example could be if the police used a thermal scanner without a warrant to see someone cooking meth. The famous example where you don't have that right of privacy was in California v. Greenwood. http://en.wikiped...reenwood

IOW, violating ones privacy is not a punishable offense, but there are extant privacy rights established by judicial precedence.