Science
5:26 pm
Thu March 28, 2013

UT Scientists Look to Create an Invisibility Cloak (Update)

Researchers at UT have developed a cloak that is barely visible to microwaves

Update: Harry Potter fans and Muggles alike may be one step closer to getting their own invisibility cloaks, if researchers at the University of Texas can help it.

According to the New Journal of Physics, they’ve created a thin material called a “mantle cloak.” Right now the cloak can only make things invisible in a certain range of light waves. It also doesn’t look like a cloak you would wear. It’s a thin tubing made from polycarbonate film, wrapped with copper tape.

But researchers say the technology used could possibly be expanded to make items difficult to see with the human eye.

“Invisible is, of course, not really possible and everybody understands that. In practice, you just want to make it much less visible so that its harder to see or harder to pick out against clutter," says Dave Rainwater, one of the researchers who developed the cloak. 

In the past, scientists had made items “invisible,” but it required a more difficult, cumbersome process. 

Rainwater says it will be years before the cloak could be used practically. He says one potential use is at airports, where cloaking technology could allow placement of power-generating wind turbines.

“You don’t want to put these things anywhere near an airport because you can’t see the planes. If you could put wind turbine blades let radar pass through them without scattering, this wouldn’t be a problem," Rainwater said. 

Researchers also say the cloak could advance camouflage technology in defense operations.