Scientists Claim They Have Found a Way to Make an Object Invisible

Wednesday, July 4, 2018 - 13:58

Researchers from Montreal's National Institute of Scientific Research (INRS) have claimed that they could find a way to make objects invisible under realistic conditions.

In a new study, researchers from Montreal's National Institute of Scientific Research (INRS) offers the first demonstration of invisibility cloaking based on the manipulation of the frequency (color) of light waves as they pass through an object, a fundamentally new approach that overcomes critical shortcomings of existing cloaking technologies.

Most current cloaking devices can fully conceal the object of interest only when the object is illuminated with just one color of light. However, sunlight and most other light sources are broadband, meaning that they contain many colors. The new device, called a spectral invisibility cloak, is designed to completely hide arbitrary objects under broadband illumination, OSA reports.

The spectral cloak operates by selectively transferring energy from certain colors of the light wave to other colors. After the wave has passed through the object, the device restores the light to its original state. Researchers demonstrate the new approach in Optica, The Optical Society's journal for high impact research.

“Our work represents a breakthrough in the quest for invisibility cloaking,” said José Azaña, National Institute of Scientific Research (INRS), Montréal, Canada. “We have made a target object fully invisible to observation under realistic broadband illumination by propagating the illumination wave through the object with no detectable distortion, exactly as if the object and cloak were not present.”

Let's break this down, starting with light. There's something called the electromagnetic spectrum. It contains all the different frequencies of electromagnetic radiation, a certain kind of energy. X-rays, gamma rays, and radar all fall somewhere on this spectrum.

While you can't see an X-ray, your eyes can see one small range of frequencies on the electromagnetic spectrum. We call this visible light. As mentioned, it's a range separated into what we perceive as colors, with violet at one end and red at the other. Some light sources contain more than one specific frequency. We call these broadband sources, and sunlight is one example.

When we "see" something, what we're really seeing is the interaction of these light frequencies and the object. When sunlight shines on a blue car, the car reflects the blue light frequency while all the other color frequencies simply pass through the object. Our eyes detect the reflected blue light, letting us see the blue car.

To make this object seem "invisible" to the human eye, they use a specially designed filter to temporarily shift the green frequencies in the broadband spectrum shining on the object to blue. Then, they use another filter to shift those frequencies back to green on the other side of the object.

For now, the device could help secure telecommunications, which use broadband waves to transport data. Telecom companies could render certain frequencies along their fiber optic networks "invisible," preventing third-parties from using broadband light to spy on them.

So, while we still have a ways to go before we can all cosplay as the (really) Invisible Man at ComicCon, this complex cloaking contraption could potentially keep our data concealed in the meantime.

This article was originally published by Futurism.

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