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David R. Smith with Cloaking Device  (Source: Duke University)
New algorithm makes it much faster to build cloaking metamaterials

Cloaking technology is the stuff of dreams and science fiction for many of us. The reality of cloaking objects is getting nearer as scientific breakthroughs pave the way for a technology that was once nothing but a dream.

DailyTech has been covering cloaking technology as it matures for a while now. This week, a new breakthrough in cloaking technology has been made by scientists from Duke University. The team working on the project includes engineers from different departments within the university.

The researchers say that the latest advance in cloaking technology comes thanks to the development of a new series of mathematical algorithms that are used to guide the design and fabrication of the required exotic composites needed for the cloaking process. These exotic composite materials are known as metamaterials.

The key to metamaterials is that the scientists are able to design materials with properties that are not easy to find in natural materials. The metamaterials are then used to form cloaking structures that are able to guide electromagnetic waves around an object.

The waves are guided away from the object being cloaking in a way that makes the waves act as if they had passed through empty space. The scientists working on the project are publishing their findings in the January 16 edition of the journal Science.

Authors of the paper include Ruopeng Liu, the developer of the algorithm, and Chunlin Li. The research teams senior member is David R. Smith, professor of electrical and computer engineering at Duke. After the completion of the algorithm, the research team was able to construct the cloaking device from concept to fabrication in only nine days.

The team points out that their first cloaking device took four months to build. The significant reduction in build time is attributed to the new mathematical algorithm. The algorithm makes it possible to custom-design the metamaterials with specific cloaking characteristics. The algorithm determines the shape and placement of each piece of the metamaterial.

Smith said in a statement, "The difference between the original device and the latest model is like night and day. The new device can cloak a much wider spectrum of waves — nearly limitless — and will scale far more easily to infrared and visible light. The approach we used should help us expand and improve our abilities to cloak different types of waves."

During the research, the scientists used the cloak to make a dot on a mirror appear as if it wasn’t there. An experiment had the researchers pointing microwaves at the bump on the mirror. The cloak used in the experiments measures 20-inches by 4-inches and was less than an inch high.

The cloak was made from more than 10,000 individual pieces arranged in parallel rows and according to the researchers, more than 6,000 of those pieces are unique. The pieces used to construct the cloak are made of a fiberglass material that is used in circuit boards and etched with copper.

Liu said in a statement, "The ability of the cloak to hide the bump is compelling, and offers a path towards the realization of forms of cloaking abilities approaching the optical. Though the designs of such metamaterials are extremely complex, especially when traditional approaches are used, we believe that we now have a way to rapidly and efficiently produce such materials."

The researchers say the cloaking technique could lead to new metamaterials that can be used to focus light, leading to lenses that are more powerful.

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By RabidDog on 1/16/2009 11:00:32 AM , Rating: 5
Let's make sure that the Klingons and Romulans keep their dirty stinking paws off this technology!

RE: Careful...
By Aloonatic on 1/16/2009 11:06:27 AM , Rating: 5
Aren't there treaties in place to stop us from developing cloaking technology?

RE: Careful...
By therealnickdanger on 1/16/2009 11:49:03 AM , Rating: 5
According to the Treaty of Algeron, we may only use cloaking technology in the gamma quadrant. I say, "Screw that!"

RE: Careful...
By FITCamaro on 1/16/2009 2:30:07 PM , Rating: 4
Ok I know enough about Star Trek to know the Federation had a treaty that they wouldn't develop cloaking technology.

But damn. To know the NAME of the treaty? Sometimes I wonder about you nick...

RE: Careful...
By grath on 1/16/2009 5:55:54 PM , Rating: 5
As the treaty was drafted well before the discovery of the Bajoran wormhole, it included no provision for the conditional Federation use of the technology, nor was it amended to. It was a secret arrangement between Starfleet and Romulan intellegence to allow the use of the loaned cloaking device outside the terms of the treaty. The treaty was mainly intended to prevent a destabilizing arms race, much like the anti-ballistic missile defense treaty in our reality. Allowing the Defiant to use it in the Gamma Quadrant benefited both involved parties and did not violate the spirit of the treaty.

RE: Careful...
By alifbaa on 1/16/09, Rating: 0
RE: Careful...
By grath on 1/16/2009 8:33:54 PM , Rating: 5
The Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty signed between the USA and Soviet Union, in real life, is what I was comparing the fictional Treaty of Algeron to in terms of the intent to prevent an arms race.

In any case I was wrong, and apparently it has been inferred from dialog that the treaty was indeed amended, albeit secretly, to allow the Defiant to use a cloak in the Gamma Quadrant.

I dont know whats worse, that I said anything in the first place, that you felt it necessary to make fun of me for it, or that I am now defending my comment. Such time we humans waste eh?

RE: Careful...
By PrinceGaz on 1/16/2009 9:48:00 PM , Rating: 3
There is no need to defend your knowledge of the Trekiverse along with real history and certainly no need to apologise; I'm sure the vast majority of us here admire a guy (I assume you are) who can not only correlate Star Trek situations with real events, but then when challenged goes back to check his facts and comes back with corrections and clarifications as needed.

Being a geek (as distinct from a nerd - a geek with no understanding of social-interaction) is not considered negative in Britain any more, and among like minded intellectual friends is something we are proud to be considered as. You sound like the kind of guy I could chat over a pint in the real world about many topics, from warp-drive technology to the Civil War (of whichever country, as most developed nations have had at least one).

One thing for sure is we waste a helluva lot of time posting on the interweb when we could be chatting with real people.

RE: Careful...
By William Gaatjes on 1/17/2009 7:45:47 AM , Rating: 2
Geeks are great.

RE: Careful...
By FaceMaster on 1/16/09, Rating: -1
RE: Careful...
By SlyNine on 1/17/2009 12:43:08 AM , Rating: 2
kettle calling the teapot black eh FaceMaster. Because you come off as anything but socially accepted.

RE: Careful...
By FaceMaster on 1/17/2009 5:00:36 PM , Rating: 1
I'm so alone... :(

RE: Careful...
By DeepBlue1975 on 1/19/2009 7:49:28 AM , Rating: 2
Don't come here trying to imply that cloaking technology was only used in the gamma quadrant and that the treaty was always respected otherwise, you know Riker allowed his hands to get dirty trying to recover the little gizmo hidden on that rocky asteroid's wreckage instead of telling the good'ol Piccard about it first.

Sad, really sad and startrekkingly pathetic. Riker should have been kept in the brig and get replaced by Data as Picard's N°1. (?)

PS: Here I have 5 bars of gold pressed latinum that say you are afraid of transwarp conduit travelling.

PS2: just trying to have some trekkie fun on this slow boring morning. Your trekkie comments are to blame! :D

RE: Careful...
By Reclaimer77 on 1/16/2009 6:43:55 PM , Rating: 2
Ok I know enough about Star Trek to know the Federation had a treaty that they wouldn't develop cloaking technology.

Aha ! But it didn't say we couldn't "borrow" one of theirs !

RE: Careful...
By Spivonious on 1/16/2009 2:04:41 PM , Rating: 2
Screw cloaking. I want the Holodeck.

RE: Careful...
By FITCamaro on 1/16/2009 2:31:02 PM , Rating: 2
You and every teenage boy in the world. Suffice to say when holodecks become reality, human population growth will decline.

RE: Careful...
By rudolphna on 1/16/09, Rating: 0
RE: Careful...
By FITCamaro on 1/16/2009 3:53:03 PM , Rating: 2
Umm...that's part of it being a holodeck.

RE: Careful...
By grath on 1/16/2009 5:59:04 PM , Rating: 2
How many times have we seen a holodeck malfunction? Even if it were in perfect working order I wouldnt entrust my penis to forcefields.

RE: Careful...
By makius on 1/16/2009 8:57:13 PM , Rating: 3
What!? Why wouldnt you trust your penis to a forcefeild? At least you know that forcefeild is sterile.

Mmmm... forcefeild

RE: Careful...
By makius on 1/16/2009 9:03:18 PM , Rating: 2
well apparently I'm dislexic. My apologies.

RE: Careful...
By blowfish on 1/16/2009 10:13:27 PM , Rating: 2
It's a well known side effect from over-use of the holodeck....

RE: Careful...
By makius on 1/20/2009 4:25:39 AM , Rating: 2
Damn! well... it was worth it.

RE: Careful...
By jconan on 1/16/2009 11:15:07 PM , Rating: 2
doesn't mean that they're prone to viruses and trojans that are not of the rna/dna. will binary viruses affect humans that are interfaced in a holodeck? this and so many ethical questions once holodeck is a reality and affordable...

RE: Careful...
By Spivonious on 1/16/2009 4:06:05 PM , Rating: 2
:( Surely there are other 27 year-olds that want a holodeck. Video games would disappear.

RE: Careful...
By jconan on 1/17/2009 5:46:24 PM , Rating: 2
actually it would probably be more of the opposite as people would either want someone to program or their holodecks. holodecks will actually increase holodeck video game sales. however the problem will come down to real estate if there is enough real estate for a large holodeck implementation.

RE: Careful...
By FITCamaro on 1/16/2009 2:34:00 PM , Rating: 2
And I want invisible tanks.

RE: Careful...
By silhrt on 1/16/2009 2:49:33 PM , Rating: 3
Forget tanks, i want my invisible Gundam.

Hair cloak
By Alphafox78 on 1/16/2009 11:03:40 AM , Rating: 5
He must be wearing a cloaking hat!!

RE: Hair cloak
By Whaaambulance on 1/16/2009 11:26:19 AM , Rating: 2
I seriously almost spit out my coffee when I read this... LOLOLOL

RE: Hair cloak
By bighairycamel on 1/16/2009 11:27:38 AM , Rating: 2
What ever happened to good old fasioned "Hahahaha"?

RE: Hair cloak
By therealnickdanger on 1/16/2009 11:45:18 AM , Rating: 5
You mean Hahahaha™ McDonald's Corporation? Yeah, they own the rights to it now. Fortunately "LOL" is public domain, but rumor is that Paris Hilton® attempted to buy it from teh Intern3tz®.

RE: Hair cloak
By ekv on 1/16/2009 6:51:00 PM , Rating: 2

RE: Hair cloak
By ekv on 1/16/2009 6:53:45 PM , Rating: 2
woops. Forgot to turn that off. There!

You know, I resemble that remark.

The future...
By ZmaxDP on 1/16/2009 11:54:40 AM , Rating: 4
You laugh, but this will be the high-tech nipple concealer of the future. Instead of women pasting those silly things on their breasts, they'll simply cloak that region to make it look like the fabric is perfectly smooth...

"It's like the bump isn't even there!"

RE: The future...
By Alphafox78 on 1/16/2009 11:56:28 AM , Rating: 2
what the..

RE: The future...
By Master Kenobi on 1/16/2009 12:49:36 PM , Rating: 4
If you have to ask, you don't need to know.

RE: The future...
By bupkus on 1/16/2009 3:44:40 PM , Rating: 2
But, but... I like nipples. 8(

Progress sucks.

RE: The future...
By Yaron on 1/18/2009 5:50:50 PM , Rating: 2
Leave the tits alone!
We men like them as they are 8)

They need help...
By dj LiTh on 1/16/2009 12:57:02 PM , Rating: 2
the scientists used the cloak to make a dot on a mirror appear as if it wasn’t there.

Can someone either please direct them to the woman's locker room or at the very least give them some damn Windex?

RE: They need help...
By Oregonian2 on 1/16/2009 2:03:26 PM , Rating: 2
I thought Windex was used just to clear/remove zits?

RE: They need help...
By Spivonious on 1/16/2009 4:06:53 PM , Rating: 2
Huh?? Maybe you're thinking of Stridex? Windex is a glass cleaner.

RE: They need help...
By Kenenniah on 1/16/2009 4:44:16 PM , Rating: 2
I believe it was a reference to My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

By Comdrpopnfresh on 1/16/2009 12:58:45 PM , Rating: 1
Being able to focus light could mean the ability to focus electromagnetic radiation of a shorter wavelength...
-Radiation treatment for cancer could be much more exact
-X-rays could be better focused on fusion materials to induce fusion at more palatable temperatures and pressures
-Gamma radiation could be directed around someone donning a radiation suit with 'cloaking' built in... the last of the big three types of radiation could be tamed, negating the use of meters of water, inches of lead, inches of glass, or feet of cement

this is a very important field to follow up on- it has the ability for mass applicability for many existing technologies; leading to better efficiencies, wider uses, easier use, and less expense. It could also spur new technologies previously never dreamed about.

By William Gaatjes on 1/17/2009 7:22:42 AM , Rating: 2

Being able to manipulate photons will open up entirely new possibilities. For example mixing. Mixing is used to change a certain sgnals frequency into another frequency.
With soundwaves you can use for example downmixing to be able to here the sounds bats and dolphins make. In the RF field it is used to provide music and television. We need metamaterials to do this in the elektromagnetic spectrum field in and above the Ghz range.

I have seen a xxGhz circuitboard at my work. There where almost no components. The copper traces on the pcb( not really a pcb but some special kind of material) where not really traces but where made up of different kinds of shapes. These shapes behave the same as capacitors and inductors at very higher frequencies in the GHZ range.
The same as capacitors and inductors do in low frequency electronic circuits.

With metamaterials we will be able to go even further. I am thinking of mixing , faster ways of detecting when a signal is present or not, amplifiying, frequency modulation.

By TheEinstein on 1/20/2009 3:11:39 AM , Rating: 2
Good points all. However to call it "cloaking" is a very bad idea. Since in effect it bends and rebends a specific band it is not cloaking since that would require many portions of the bands.

I hate how the publishing of it as "cloaking" is occurring. When it can handle purple, red, blue, green, yellow and orange, then I will accept the terms "cloaking". However since this would be impossible, then I wish they would stop.

By makius on 1/20/2009 4:23:35 AM , Rating: 2
It could also spur new technologies previously never dreamed about.

Ya like Holodecks, invisible Gundams and outrageously expensive nipple concealers! Havent you been listening?

Wait for it....
By bobcpg on 1/16/2009 11:39:16 AM , Rating: 5
Make it so.

Nice cloak...
By Vorian on 1/16/2009 11:01:05 AM , Rating: 2
but will it be in violation of the Treaty of Algernon???

RE: Nice cloak...
By theplaidfad on 1/16/2009 11:43:20 AM , Rating: 1
Maybe they should consult Riker before they continue further with experimentation to avoid running into the same type of problem that he did.

Perverts everywhere REJOICE!!!
By amanojaku on 1/16/2009 12:26:37 PM , Rating: 2
Take this cloak and peak in safety. Go breast, young man!

By kontorotsui on 1/16/2009 2:55:20 PM , Rating: 2
Grand Admiral Thrawn is looking for you

By lemonadesoda on 1/16/2009 6:12:19 PM , Rating: 2
David R. Smith with Cloaking Device
Sorry to disappoint you Mr Smith, but I can see you!

By foolsgambit11 on 1/16/2009 7:24:00 PM , Rating: 2
The caption reads 'David R. Smith with Cloaking Device'. Is it the piece of wood? That stone-looking thing? 20"x4"x1"....

Or is the cloaking device invisible?

By Shadow Conception on 1/16/2009 8:17:45 PM , Rating: 2
Authors of the paper include Ruopeng Liu, the developer of the algorithm, and Chunlin Li .

Chunlin Li? Could this be a pseudonym or a nickname given by a beloved lover of the SF character? Are they trying to figure out a way to make Chun Li's clothes invisible in SF4?

By DKWinsor on 1/16/2009 9:45:23 PM , Rating: 2
I don't see what's so special about this...

Need more information
By PrimarchLion on 1/17/2009 5:57:24 AM , Rating: 2
Are we going to be able to take aggressive action while cloaked, or will that reveal our location? What kind of saves do we use against such cloaking devices? Do the overlords have a speed upgrade available? The list goes on, I hope Dailytech does a follow up article to address some of these questions.

My suit!
By Etern205 on 1/20/2009 12:22:29 AM , Rating: 2
"Cloak Engaged" -check
All I need now is "Maximum strength and Maximum Speed".

"If you look at the last five years, if you look at what major innovations have occurred in computing technology, every single one of them came from AMD. Not a single innovation came from Intel." -- AMD CEO Hector Ruiz in 2007
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