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The bottom two details are images taken by scanning electronic microscopes of the first of the two new cloaking materials. This one features silver nanowires, closely spaced to give the material a negative index of refraction for visible light.  (Source: Jie Yao, UC Berkeley)

On the left is the conceptual rendered "fishnet" design for the second cloaking material. The actual produced material is seen on the right in an electron microscope picture. It is capable of bending light backwards.  (Source: Jason Valentine, UC Berkeley)
New invisibility cloak works toward fulfilling long-time dreams of military, ninjas, fantasy fans alike

DailyTech has written several updates on "cloaking" technology of different kinds.  The first reports involved a Russian professor who devised a new method of invisibility by redirecting light around objects.  Later, U.S. and British researchers were able to use similar techniques to cloak a metal cylinder from microwaves.  Next, University of Maryland reported successfully cloaking small 2D objects from all light waves.  A recent overview on the topic of cloaking provided more insight.

Now a new breakthrough in the art of illusion has been achieved.  Researchers at the Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center at the University of California, Berkeley have for the first time found a way to cloak 3D materials.  They did this with not only one, but with two different materials.

One approach uses a nano-fishnet of metal layers.  The other uses nanoscale silver wires.  Both approaches make what is known as "metamaterials" -- special manmade materials with properties not seen in nature.  These materials have a negative refraction index, meaning they can bend light around them.

The materials were developed by two separate teams, both under the leadership of Xiang Zhang.  One team will be reporting its findings in the prestigious Nature journal, while the other will report in the journal Science.

Both materials currently can only work with limited portions of the electromagnetic spectrum.  Researcher Jason Valentine who helped with the projects states, "We are not actually cloaking anything.  I don't think we have to worry about invisible people walking around any time soon. To be honest, we are just at the beginning of doing anything like that."

He explains the typical positive index of refraction saying, "In naturally occurring material, the index of refraction, a measure of how light bends in a medium, is positive.  When you see a fish in the water, the fish will appear to be in front of the position it really is. Or if you put a stick in the water, the stick seems to bend away from you."

What would a negative index of refraction look like?  Mr. Valentine explains, "Instead of the fish appearing to be slightly ahead of where it is in the water, it would actually appear to be above the water's surface.  It's kind of weird."

The key to achieving such strange mechanics is to develop structures smaller than the targeted wavelength of light.  Mr. Valentine's team targeted the near the visible spectrum, in a region used in fiber optics.  Past methods have focused on using single-atom layers, but these have proven too hard to work with.  The new method from Mr. Valentine's team has taken those designs and thickened them, by using multiple layers with nanoholes punched in them. 

He explains, "What we have done is taken that material and made it much thicker.  We call it a fishnet."

The other team used an oxide template to grow silver nanowires inside porous aluminum oxide.  The spacing between the wires was smaller than the wavelength of visible light.  This device works in the visible spectrum, refracting light.

Despite his belief that cloaking is "not quite there", Mr. Valentine says both technologies could soon allow for a cloak of invisibility.  He explains, "However, cloaking may be something that this material could be used for in the future.  You'd have to wrap whatever you wanted to cloak in the material. It would just send light around. By sending light around the object that is to be cloaked, you don't see it."

Professor Zhang is similarly enthusiastic, stating, "What makes both these materials stand out is that they are able to function in a broad spectrum of optical wavelengths with lower energy loss.  We've also opened up a new approach to developing metamaterials by moving away from previous designs that were based upon the physics of resonance. Previous metamaterials in the optical range would need to vibrate at certain frequencies to achieve negative refraction, leading to strong energy absorption. Resonance is not a factor in both the nanowire and fishnet metamaterials."

The research was government funded as the Defense Department has great interest in developing invisibility cloaks for its fighters, soldiers, and warships.

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By tastyratz on 8/12/2008 11:44:02 AM , Rating: 4
How many of us wish we could be one more step to refracting our way into the woman's changing room?

I love it when scifi comes to life

RE: score
By BruceLeet on 8/12/2008 7:39:22 PM , Rating: 5
Now thats just perverted

RE: score
By tastyratz on 8/12/2008 9:05:19 PM , Rating: 4
yes it is. I am such a terrible person. Let me refract my tears of remorse (or joy you choose) while I'm there.

new statistic
80% of men said they would do it if they could.
20% were lying :-)

"no sweetheart I don't look at porn, your enough for me"

RE: score
By BruceLeet on 8/12/08, Rating: -1
RE: score
By gunzac21 on 8/13/08, Rating: 0
RE: score
By feraltoad on 8/14/2008 1:31:09 AM , Rating: 2
"no sweetheart I don't look at porn, your enough for me"

Dummy! Even if you have a invisibility cloak on she's gonna see the computer screen with porn on it and hear, uh, clicking. Be smart like me and just use a big blanket to cover you AND the screen. Oh, and act offended if any accusations or insinuations of porn arise and say, very reverently, "How dare you, that's my Fortress of Solitude".

This could get out of hand.
By vhx on 8/12/2008 8:06:45 PM , Rating: 2
Cloaked bombs, planes, or other things could turn out to be a big pain in the ass for security making things a bigger pain in the ass for the consumer (more security).

Imagine some place in Iran or Russia bombed out of nowhere. All you can hear is jet engines and can't see anything. If there is an attack some place, and the fighters are invisible, how could you prove who it was? You could blame anyone, and have an excuse to attack anyone.

Me thinks security cameras will start using infrared instead. On the other hand the cameras might be invisible and they couldn't tell they were being watched anyways.(If this were made commercially available some day) Expect a boom in home invasions, peeping, and binocular sales. Oh dear, the applications. /drool

RE: This could get out of hand.
By tank171 on 8/13/2008 4:38:35 AM , Rating: 2
I seriously doubt that the government would allow this technology to be easily available. There is always the possiblity that some will be stolen from labs or made illegaly, but I am sure that an honest, law abiding person would ever touch the stuff.

RE: This could get out of hand.
By tank171 on 8/13/2008 4:39:39 AM , Rating: 2
Oops, I meant never, not ever.

RE: This could get out of hand.
By SnakeBlitzken on 8/13/2008 9:15:00 AM , Rating: 2
The military tracks planes by radar, not sight. Does Invisibility apply to radar waves?

RE: This could get out of hand.
By SneakyTX on 8/13/2008 10:31:29 AM , Rating: 2
Yes and no. Remember that light is one small part of the electromagnetic spectrum, and RF is in that same spectrum. Stealth technology, or at least one part of it anyway, works somewhat on the same principal in that it refracts RF away in multiple directions diminishing return to a Radar's receiver... So if the material could somehow bend light waves as well as RF, or at the very least be mated up with materials that refract RF, it's theoretically possible to have an aircraft that is "invisible" to sight as well as radar. This is somewhat unlikely though simply because creating a material that could bend/absorb/refract all frequencies of RF as well as light is near impossible simply because of wave lengths. This also doesn't take into account polarization or fast time constants and other radar principals. And let's not forget that engines produce heat and it's near impossible to hide heat signatures... but that is beyond the depth of this discussion...

RE: This could get out of hand.
By geddarkstorm on 8/13/2008 2:17:33 PM , Rating: 2
Since you need the nanoholes to be closer together than the size of the wavelength being refracted (by some proportion I'm sure).. it should be easier to make the material invisible to RF, since it has such a larger wavelength and you wouldn't have to put the holes so close together. As long as nothing bounces back from the object to a reciever, it's completely invisible.

RE: This could get out of hand.
By 9nails on 8/16/2008 10:53:59 AM , Rating: 2
I would hate to be the aircraft mechanic who has to clean the bug guts out of those nano holes! What a job that would be.

Sounds Great
By 325hhee on 8/12/2008 12:26:04 PM , Rating: 2
Now how does this tech react to motion? I wish they could show some kind of demo. I'd love to see what the effects are, and also how would this react under thermal, infra, and night vision scanning.

This tech is exciting, but sadly, I've already thought of many ways this would be exploited, whether or not it's in the right hands or the wrong hands.

RE: Sounds Great
By Sickthing on 8/12/08, Rating: -1
RE: Sounds Great
By MrBlastman on 8/12/2008 2:06:18 PM , Rating: 2
If you think our Government and Military screwed up Iraq royally and others could do better, why don't you put your money where your mouth is and enlist.

Go pick up a gun and do something about it rather than playing armchair whiner.

RE: Sounds Great
By jeff834 on 8/12/2008 10:38:26 PM , Rating: 3
Not to belittle any members of the armed forces, but enlisting in the military would be the last thing you'd want to do if you wanted to change the system. Our military is designed to take enlisted men and women and get them to follow orders without question (short of committing war crimes and guess what? still happens). If you actually want to change the way the government runs you need to run for political office, win, do that a few years, run for congress/senate, win, do that for 10-20 years and then maybe just maybe you'll get a chance to make a small change. Fact is our government was designed to be flexible and make it possible to change when necessary, but over the last 230 years we've made it impossible to do so.

You may be able to win a few military victories with guns, but you never win peace. Peace comes from diplomacy, that's why they call them peace talks and not peace duels.

RE: Sounds Great
By MrBlastman on 8/13/2008 10:54:32 AM , Rating: 2
Peace in complete totality is impossible as long as Humans retain their current genetic makeup.

This is a historical fact.

This is also why we have the armed forces. I'd rather be on the end of the gun pulling the trigger than on the other end with the gun pointed at me.

RE: Sounds Great
By Seemonkeyscanfly on 8/12/2008 6:45:20 PM , Rating: 3
Wow, since you are old enough to read and write you should be old enough to realize what has happened but you have not.... You may not like Bush's style (the way he carried things out), I would agree he could have used help in that area. However, let's look at Iraq 2000 verses Iraq 2008.
– businesses close, afraid to be open – much killing in the streets, stealing, lose you life and all your valuable in any given moment.
Sadams Husein – villages of people were killed to test chemicals (mass graves have been found and uncovered. 30,000, people in one grave.)
Kids not sent to school – in fear they would never come home. Girl were not allowed to be educated. I'm not sure if that means education till age 6, 12, 18 , 22 or not at all. However does it matter, it's not a good thing to limit someone.
Sadam son were often reward with being able to have sex with the young children/teens. They'd usually shot the kid in the back of the head at the “peak” because, death would cause their bodies to tighten up. Extra pleasure. Documented – you can find it, I've been grossed out enough from what I've found on this subject.
Well over a 1,000,000 people missing since Sadam took over about 30 years ago. The country the is only the size of California. It would be as to say in the USA we had 30,000,000 people just go missing in 30 years. A family member goes missing, you go to the police to ask for help...the next day another family member comes in to report your family member and you missing. It does not take long before you know, you have no help.
Forced religion... Mean you must follow the rules and laws of the countries official religion. Most were born there so this is probably not a big deal. However, they could not think about it, it would be against the law.
Sadam has his own brother-in-law killed, because he suspects him of betrayal – no proof. So, even family not safe.
It would not be hard to continue this list and make it several hundred points...but you should get the idea of life in Iraq.

Businesses start opening up for the first time in year (really 2005 range). This was done with the help of the US military (perhaps other military too, I've only viewed footage with the US military). The military would come into a village and clean up the town (pick up the trash), then start painting the builds (no crazy super paint job, just steps to help make it look nicer). Villagers came out, started picking colors, started seeing the US military is helping not trying to kill them like Sadam said they would...just before killing another one of their neighbors.
All kids start going back to school – village to village has a different start time. Trust has to be built up and of course a stable environment is needed first. However, this has been going on for years now. Girls and Boy, though most of the time I've heard boys 3 days a week girls 2 days a week. They are still kept separate.
Clean water and electricity has come back to these villages.
The people of these village think Bush, the US and other aiding military have been set by god to set them free from the horrible life they lived. There are so many video's out there from the Iraq people saying, “thank you Bush, Thank you USA, thank you Allah” With big, honest, happy smiles on their faces. The US media, will not air these because they are bias to Democrats...sad that they hide the truth when it's so easy to find. Guessing you have not looked and guessing you never will.
Iraq Government is finally starting to support and defend itself. Own military, own police, own elected officials.
There is so many more benefits and positive changes, but these should be enough to get the point across. However, you stated “ If they did, they couldn't have screwed up IRAQ as badly as they did.” If you think he and the US government has screwed up the Iraq. Let me know where you live (just general area), because I do not want to live within a 1,000 miles of you. Only a naive and/or truly evil person would say, 'Iraq was better off before Bush.'

RE: Sounds Great
By KnightProdigy on 8/14/2008 3:56:25 PM , Rating: 2
I always hate these political ramblings, usually started by an extremist of lower intelligence. Props to Seemonkeyscanfly for the intelligent end of that conversation.

As a veteran, thanks!

Back on topic...
Most of the posts on this are on the militant ramifications of this technology. Granted, like any weapon, it could fall into the wrong hands. I don't see this being made available to the public as with other high end military munitions.

By C3POOO on 8/12/2008 1:25:11 PM , Rating: 2
"The research was government funded as the Defense Department has great interest in developing invisibility cloaks for its fighters, soldiers, and warships"

Yay, lets share all of our scientific breakthroughs (that cost billion$ to generate) on the world wide web.

The thought of an invisible army scares me. How did Wonder Woman ever find her jet anyway???

By Smartless on 8/12/2008 2:24:37 PM , Rating: 2
Or more importantly, did Wonderwoman invent the Wonderbra?

Well as far as the article says, they can bend light to change somethings perceived position so it'll be a bit more before they get cloaking. Besides, China's making it, if its not sold as a bootleg it will be used against us.

By TheLazyGun on 8/12/2008 3:53:31 PM , Rating: 2
Actually, if you read the Article it is Berkley.

By LatinMessiah on 8/12/2008 5:51:22 PM , Rating: 1
You mean "Berkeley".

By Seemonkeyscanfly on 8/12/2008 7:04:53 PM , Rating: 2
He China is making it, He did not say who was creating it.... Big difference. :)

By Joz on 8/12/2008 11:45:39 AM , Rating: 2

By Bender 123 on 8/12/2008 12:26:47 PM , Rating: 2
We had better not let the Romulans know or they will think we are trying to break the peace accords...or whatever.

By AOforever1 on 8/12/2008 1:05:23 PM , Rating: 2

By BladeVenom on 8/12/2008 3:06:56 PM , Rating: 2
Not bad, but they still need to get it to work at warp speeds.

How do you see out of it?
By TheLazyGun on 8/12/2008 3:56:39 PM , Rating: 4
If the visible light range is bent around you, then your eyes can't receive anything to see. It would be like walking around a pitch black room. Cut out a slot for your eyes or a pinhole camera perhaps.

uhm Sir, that pair of eyeballs is moving towards us...

RE: How do you see out of it?
By Jedi2155 on 8/12/2008 5:43:47 PM , Rating: 2
At least Commanders can still give the order to don't shoot until you see the whites of their eyes...

RE: How do you see out of it?
By 9nails on 8/16/2008 11:01:24 AM , Rating: 2
Isn't that one of the power-up items in Quake 1? Where you pick up a Ring or something and you're invisible. But if it was a multiplayer map, other players would see the holder as a pair of eyeballs!

All hell will break lose when they invent the Quad Damage power-up!

Solid Snake
By FITCamaro on 8/12/2008 11:12:25 AM , Rating: 1
Be careful. Pirate ninja's may soon be sneaking up on you.

Seriously though. This is awesome.

RE: Solid Snake
By onwisconsin on 8/12/2008 12:28:27 PM , Rating: 2
Pirate Ninjas don't need them...

RE: Solid Snake
By 9nails on 8/16/2008 11:03:31 AM , Rating: 2
Pirate ninja's can be seen, but only when the camera pans up slowly.

RE: Solid Snake
By MrBlastman on 8/12/2008 1:26:54 PM , Rating: 2
They can now flip out and cut off your head in complete true stealth!

beware :)

At last!
By Iger on 8/12/2008 11:07:18 AM , Rating: 3

RE: At last!
By DASQ on 8/12/2008 11:59:59 AM , Rating: 2
Psh, everything still fires in your general direction.

A Crisis
By MrBowmore on 8/12/2008 11:15:41 AM , Rating: 2

off topic
By vcolon on 8/18/2008 9:12:18 AM , Rating: 2
How easily we all get off topic.

aha, aha. teeny tiney probum.
By jlips6 on 8/19/2008 8:00:26 PM , Rating: 2
silver corrodes. silver might work yes, until suddenly it's not pure silver anymore. this might be inconvenient if suddenly, your invisible plane is not only visible, but visible in the middle of enemy territory. :p
and how do silver nanowire's hold up at high speed?
so dissapointed.

"Nowadays, security guys break the Mac every single day. Every single day, they come out with a total exploit, your machine can be taken over totally. I dare anybody to do that once a month on the Windows machine." -- Bill Gates

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