Invisibility cloaks have long been a goal from small kids to physicists. The world of science fiction lets invisibility cloaks make people invisible. Getting that to work in real life has proved a bit tougher. Scientists have made it work in certain wavelengths of light, but only those we can’t see anyway. Seems counterintuitive.
Last week, researchers at the University of Rochester showed a way to hide objects in the visible spectrum of light. Their solution? An inexpensive, off-the-shelf one using optical lenses.
I say kinda in the title, because the system won’t work on a person, but it could eliminate blind spots for vehicles or allow surgeons to see through their hands during operations. Both intriguing uses.
So, how does it work? Two pairs of lenses positioned just right can bend light and hide everything placed in the middle of the arrangement. The best thing about it? It can scale with the size of the glass. The drawback?
“This cloak bends light and sends it through the center of the device, so the on-axis region cannot be blocked or cloaked,” said graduate student Joseph Choi.
Basically, the cloaked area is shaped like a doughnut. Choi did say design fixes can solve the problem. Check out the video below to see the Rochester Cloak in action. Very cool stuff.
Now the practical uses for such a cloaking device are a good ways off, but the simplicity of the design makes it more than plausible to see uses spring up soon. Eliminating blind spots for truck drivers would be a huge safety improvement.