Print 17 comment(s) - last by fifolo.. on Dec 27 at 10:34 PM

The cloaked circle measures a mere 10 micrometers, but try to spot it next to an uncloaked circle.  (Source: UMD)
Scientists at the University of Maryland demonstrate the first working visible light cloaking device.

Cloaking devices and technology have long been the fodder of science fiction, but researchers at the University of Maryland's James Clark School of Engineering have created a material that seems to fit the bill – at least in 2D. The device uses the properties of plasmons in its functionality.

Plasmons are electron waves which are generated when light strikes a metallic surface under controlled conditions. Plasmonics is a relatively new field though it promises to provide many beneficial scientific achievements.

The cloak itself is quite small, a mere 10 micrometers in width (PDF). The structure of the device is a simple thin layer of acrylic plastic with a pattern of concentric, two-dimensional rings atop a gold film. The ring pattern creates a negative refraction effect on visible light striking it, bending the plasmons around the object. While the light appears to have passed straight through the material, it has in fact gone around it.

Far from a usable cloaking system, the device only functions under specialized conditions and only in two dimensions. It is also not perfect invisibility as it only works on a limited range of the visual spectrum and suffers energy loss in the gold film. Three dimensional use of the material would be difficult because visible light would need to be controlled both magnetically and electronically.

Of a more practical purpose, the team has also used the unique properties of plasmons to develop a superlens microscopy technology which could augment existing conventional microscopes. The light bending techniques could allow a real view into nanoscale objects like DNA, viruses and proteins. The group believes they can still improve the superlens technology, bringing the resolution to an impressive 10 nanometers.

Plasmons could one day be employed in a variety of technology due to their unique properties. Since plasmons have very short wavelengths, they can be controlled with impressively small guide structures, much smaller than systems currently in use. As the waves are generated at optical frequencies, they could be used to carry impressive amounts of data in future computing systems.

Not surprisingly, the research has garnered attention from not only the scientific community, but government agencies and industries. One can only dream of the possible applications the military could have in mind for such a technology, less long advances that could be made on the optical computing frontier.

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By Hase0 on 12/20/2007 11:36:04 AM , Rating: 2
could of swore i read about the same thing on dig a long time ago, even the picture looks very familiar.

RE: Old?
By Sanity on 12/20/2007 11:40:41 AM , Rating: 2
I saw this somewhere too. It's been at least a month ago. Maybe more. I would have guessed it was here, but maybe not. Might have been on Tom's Hardware.

RE: Old?
By JackBeQuick on 12/20/2007 12:07:56 PM , Rating: 2
RE: Old?
By LogicallyGenius on 12/22/2007 12:55:26 AM , Rating: 2
Wow so Plasmons is a new word i guess ?

RE: Old?
By LeviBeckerson on 12/20/2007 11:50:51 AM , Rating: 2
Maybe thinking of this article from October?

RE: Old?
By LeviBeckerson on 12/20/2007 11:51:59 AM , Rating: 2
Of 2006? Haha. ~_~

RE: Old?
By sadffffff on 12/20/2007 1:27:39 PM , Rating: 2
yep, i definately also saw this before. same image and same '2d' cloaking.

i wanna say i say it here.

RE: Old?
By charliee on 12/23/2007 7:18:58 PM , Rating: 2
I considered that I was having a mass deja vu with you guys but I detected an actual memory in my cells.

You may have seen the image in this DailyTech article at these other two sites in October:

Confirmed. Old news.

By jadeskye on 12/20/2007 12:30:26 PM , Rating: 2
See this is why i need to be cryogenically frozen, so i can be thawed out in a couple decades to get my invisability cloak.

RE: Cryogenics
By BladeVenom on 12/20/2007 12:39:26 PM , Rating: 2
I want a Vorpal sword with that.

RE: Cryogenics
By Fenixgoon on 12/20/2007 12:52:08 PM , Rating: 2
don't forget your boots of speed!

RE: Cryogenics
By fifolo on 12/27/2007 10:34:23 PM , Rating: 2
I'll take Baba Yaga's hut, thank you very much.

RE: Cryogenics
By captain fufu on 12/22/2007 3:32:15 AM , Rating: 2
I figure it won't be too long before the US military has figured out how to put together a suit with this technology. Invisible soldiers. Pretty scary concept, eh?

RE: Cryogenics
By kalak on 12/27/2007 12:24:53 PM , Rating: 2
a suit with this technology.

CRYSIS, anyone ???

Educate me please...
By Fnoob on 12/20/2007 7:49:40 PM , Rating: 2
"As the waves are generated at optical frequencies, they could be used to carry impressive amounts of data in future computing systems."

Why would an optical frequency, which is a pretty narrow band, be better at data transfer than higher frequencies? Masher?

RE: Educate me please...
By Moritz on 12/25/2007 6:41:46 AM , Rating: 2
The reasons are from a practicable point of view.
That's mainly because all the research being done on optical data transmission requires the use of lasers to acquire various effects in interferometry (for electro-optical bit conversion), photorefractive effective, 2nd harmonic generation, etc..
The highest frequencies one can work this effects sit on the optical spectrum and you can't work with a laser with higher frequencies then that, at least a practicable laser in an optics lab.

By derwin on 12/20/2007 11:38:07 AM , Rating: 3
I'm on my way to work, but I hope when I get there and read that PDF it has something to say about exactly how this works. I work in a physics lab doing work on scaterometry studying darn near the same fundemental thing (with entierly different apps - microchips mainly).

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