3D printing/Harry Potter enthusiasts rejoice! Engineers at Duke University have solemnly sworn that they are up to no good and have discovered how to make a working invisibility cloak using a 3D printer.
The team of engineers used a 3D printer to make a disc that was full of tiny holes, with one large hole in the center. When an object was placed in the center and fired upon with microwave beams, the object disappeared.
How does it work? Well, when the microwaves bounce off of a highly reflective object in the center of the cloak, the shadow of the object is eliminated and the light scattering is reduced by the device, rendering the object, in effect, invisible.
And the researchers have high hopes for the future of invisibility, saying they will soon be able to extend the invisibility beyond microwave and into the range of infrared and visible light.
"We believe this approach is a way towards optical cloaking, including visible and infrared," said assistant research professor in electrical and computer engineering at Duke's Pratt School of Engineering Yaroslav Urzhumov. "And nanotechnology is available to make these cloaks from transparent polymers or glass. The properties of transparent polymers and glasses are not that different from what we have in our polymer at microwave frequencies."
Urzhumov theorizes that the technology will eventually advance to the point where we can cloak much larger devices like computers, furniture and, of course, people.
"Computer simulations make me believe that it is possible to create a similar polymer-based cloaking layer as thin as one inch wrapped around a massive object several meters in diameter," he said. "I have run some simulations that seem to confirm this point," Urzhumov said.