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The new cloaking device developed at Purdue Unviersity is cheaper as it does not rely on exotic materials. Composed of gold films and glass, it can also cloak much bigger objects and cloaks most wavelengths of light. It is built using a specialized waveguide, a type of optical instrument found in fiber optics.  (Source: Purdue University)
Breakthrough device represents major improvement over past efforts

For those dreaming that the Star Trek technology of cloaking will one day become reality, they can take note of the steady progress that real-world cloaking technology has been making.  The goal of cloaking research is to find ways to redirect light around a shape, from all directions, in essence making it so the shape disappears to the naked eye.  Scientists have had success working with nanoscale objects using special lenses.

Cloaking science or "transformation optics" as its more formally called has until now relied on exotic "metamaterials" to redirect light.  However, a breakthrough from Purdue University has created a "tapered optical waveguide" that accomplishes the same behavior at a lower cost and without using exotic compounds.

The new cloak is not only cheaper, it also performs better -- it can cloak an area of up to 100 times the wavelengths of a laser, while previous designs only managed a few times the wavelengths.  Additionally, where metamaterials could only cloak part of the spectrum, this design can cloak light from a variety of wavelengths.

Vladimir Shalaev, Purdue University's Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, used it to cloak objects up to 50 microns -- the size of a human hair.  The cloak consisted of two thin gold layers -- one flat, on bottom, and another on top of the cloaked object.  The top layer was curved to act as a "hyperlense" an optical instrument with extraordinary capabilities.

Professor Shalaev describes the breakthrough, stating, "All previous attempts at optical cloaking have involved very complicated nanofabrication of metamaterials containing many elements, which makes it very difficult to cloak large objects.  Here, we showed that if a waveguide is tapered properly it acts like a sophisticated nanostructured material.  Instead of being reflected as normally would happen, the light flows around the object and shows up on the other side, like water flowing around a stone."

Hyperlenses, like this superb new one from Purdue, promise to revolutionize many fields of optics.  Where typical materials bend light -- a phenomenon known as refraction -- they keep its original direct with respect to a perpendicular line from the surface.  Hyperlenses, however, can actually have an index of refraction of less than 0, allowing the light to reverse direction.  Cloaking devices take advantage of this behavior to curve light around objects.

The lenses could revolutionize optical computing, create super-microscopes able to image DNA, cloak objects, and much more.

The new work raises hopes of large-scale cloaks (think Harry Potter's Invisibility Cloak), as it enables one device to cloak many wavelengths, unlike past work which would have necessitated many devices.  There has been no derived theoretical size limit for objects cloaked, so large scale cloaking may be possible as cloaking devices are refined.

The research appears in the May 29 edition of the journal Physical Review Letters.

The paper was co-authored by other researchers on the project -- Igor I. Smolyaninov, a principal electronic engineer at BAE Systems in Washington, D.C.; Vera N. Smolyaninova, an assistant professor of physics at Towson University in Maryland; Alexander Kildishev, a principal research scientist at Purdue's Birck Nanotechnology Center.  BAE fabricated the device to cloak the objects, based on the Purdue team's theoretical work.

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Wide Spectrum Coverage
By EricMartello on 5/21/2009 11:48:25 AM , Rating: 2
Cloaking "visible light" spectrums is a plus, but that represents a small fraction of all light. For optical cloaking to ever be viable it would need to cloak all detectable light spectra...sounds like it would take more then a fancy lens and laser to do that.

RE: Wide Spectrum Coverage
By melgross on 5/21/2009 12:07:23 PM , Rating: 4
Give it some time.

Remember when the idea of quantum computing was just a mathematical curiosity? It was thought to be impossible!

Now we have seen actual demonstrations, and breakthroughs are coming several times a year.

This is where that was several years ago.

Who knows what they'll have in ten years, or twenty.

RE: Wide Spectrum Coverage
By TheEinstein on 5/22/09, Rating: -1
RE: Wide Spectrum Coverage
By jadeskye on 5/24/2009 1:14:26 AM , Rating: 2
maybe we should also stop chasing the pipe dream of space travel, efficient energy, reducing polution and developing the third world.

Why don't we stop ALL progress because you don't seem to realise that groundbreaking technology such as bending light AROUND objects, something that couldn't even have been concieved a few decades ago, takes time.

Patience is a virtue sir. One you don't seem to possess.

RE: Wide Spectrum Coverage
By MrPoletski on 5/25/2009 11:01:33 AM , Rating: 1
you say this:

"Mathematically it is impossible to hide all the microns of light at a distance as well."

then this:

"I consider this like I consider Global Warming... both use bad science to aim for some..."

RE: Wide Spectrum Coverage
By MrPoletski on 5/27/2009 6:33:35 AM , Rating: 2
And this:

"Light distorted takes time still."

Could you elaborate on this?

RE: Wide Spectrum Coverage
By tjstkrueger on 5/29/2009 4:16:34 PM , Rating: 2
I wouldn't ask this person to elaborate. Just a friendly hint. Microns of light?

RE: Wide Spectrum Coverage
By tjstkrueger on 5/29/2009 4:12:15 PM , Rating: 2
In response to this comment I would just like to say, I hope we have something to look forward to. As many of the comments say, money is a big problem these days. People have to get paid to keep advancements coming. I was just reading about the advances in military aircraft during WWII. There was a compelling motive to create those advancements. What is our compelling motivation these days?

RE: Wide Spectrum Coverage
By mrwxyz on 5/21/2009 12:45:16 PM , Rating: 5
correct me if im wrong, but wouldnt cloaking all wavelengths of light basically leave you blind on the inside of the cloak...this tech would trap you in a bubble that you cant see into and cant see out of. still quite useful and awesome, but seems like we need to move in another direction to effectively cloak people.

RE: Wide Spectrum Coverage
By JasonMick on 5/21/2009 1:11:00 PM , Rating: 5
Not if you have two little eye holes in your big cloak of invisibility ;-)

RE: Wide Spectrum Coverage
By Ammohunt on 5/21/2009 1:45:35 PM , Rating: 2
Reminds me of that stupid invisble man movie with Kevin Bacon so if you are totally transparent including your retnas how can your eye balls work?

RE: Wide Spectrum Coverage
By Seemonkeyscanfly on 5/21/2009 3:11:22 PM , Rating: 2
by closing your eyes... or are the closed already? hmmm... I guess taking a nap in the afternoon would really suck. Eyelids would be an issue too.

RE: Wide Spectrum Coverage
By Alexstarfire on 5/21/2009 1:55:28 PM , Rating: 3
Depends. Ever heard of a one way mirror? Could end up working similar to that.

RE: Wide Spectrum Coverage
By guidoq on 5/22/2009 2:44:13 AM , Rating: 2
unlikely. to see something light has to reflect off the object and bounce toward your eye. When the light is heading toward your eye it would get caught in the cloak and be directed around you. You really couldn't see out.

RE: Wide Spectrum Coverage
By bill3 on 5/22/09, Rating: -1
RE: Wide Spectrum Coverage
By bill3 on 5/22/09, Rating: -1
RE: Wide Spectrum Coverage
By bill3 on 5/22/09, Rating: -1
RE: Wide Spectrum Coverage
By PrinceGaz on 5/22/2009 4:59:03 PM , Rating: 2
Given that the main picture which accompanied the article was one of a Romulan Warbird, which is over 1 km (0.6 miles) in length, I was hoping that a breakthrough had been made and we were now able to cloak something large enough to not require an electron-microscope to "see". But maybe Jason is right and they'll be able to cloak large objects like military aircraft in the next decade or two. For some reason, I don't think they will be able to, though.

RE: Wide Spectrum Coverage
By MrPoletski on 5/25/2009 11:08:29 AM , Rating: 2
military would be more interested in getting this to work on radar I think.

Then we will end up with multi-phased or polychromatic radar and ecm systems and then we'll be one step closer to star trek.

RE: Wide Spectrum Coverage
By yomamafor1 on 5/22/2009 12:36:38 PM , Rating: 2
Can I have some of what you're smoking?

RE: Wide Spectrum Coverage
By MrPoletski on 5/25/2009 11:35:19 AM , Rating: 2
Science fails every time, thats all you need to remember. Seriously, when is there EVER a real scientific breakthrough these days?

You are so far wrong, the crap you spew is damaging to those around with nieve eyes.

Science is the pusuit of knowledge of our universe. Science gave you the computer you're typing these posts on. It gave you the fact you can do this remotely instead of walking to the dailytech poster board and sticking a note physicallyy to it. It gives you every single thing you use that hasn't just come straight out the ground or sky. Your car, your hifi, your house, your clothes, your wallet, your watch, your lifespan, your trailer, your dead end job, your moms basement. All of that exists because of scientific breakthroughs allowing them or their component parts conception, manufacture, refinement and or their very discovery.

Take somebody from 500 bc, bring them to the future.

Try explaining to them how stealth technology on an F22 works... the basics.

Simple, primary means of reduced radar cross section is to shape the aircraft in such a way as to reduce the reflected radar signals back to the receiver.

Try explaining that to somebody from 500 bc, or even somebody from the 1850's. you'd get the biggest WTF face you've ever seen. you'd be called a madman for your proposterous tales of giant metal flying things that have invisible rays shot at them so people can see where they are.

Well the unthinkable happened and that technology did arrive.

Bottom line is and your cretinous post demonstrates that you are breaking th enumber one rule of intelligent thought.

Never allow the limits of your own feeble conception get in the way of what you think might be possible at some point, ever.

RE: Wide Spectrum Coverage
By tjstkrueger on 5/29/2009 4:07:44 PM , Rating: 2
Naive eyes don't know how to spell.

"You are so far wrong, the crap you spew is damaging to those around with nieve eyes."

RE: Wide Spectrum Coverage
By FaceMaster on 5/22/2009 9:22:26 AM , Rating: 2
this tech would trap you in a bubble that you cant see into and cant see out of.

You mean like... a wall!

RE: Wide Spectrum Coverage
By OblivionMage on 5/22/2009 4:41:38 PM , Rating: 2
You could have some sort of camera outside that you connect to in order to see whats going on.

RE: Wide Spectrum Coverage
By aatnet on 5/23/2009 10:06:58 AM , Rating: 2
And how would u connect to the camera? :-)

RE: Wide Spectrum Coverage
By Lastfreethinker on 5/23/2009 4:55:59 PM , Rating: 2
You are and you are not. If you were able to only prevent the light from being reflected off you then you could see while others could not see you.

RE: Wide Spectrum Coverage
By mindless1 on 5/23/2009 5:06:26 PM , Rating: 2
Then they would see you, you'd just look like a dark mass instead of colorful.

RE: Wide Spectrum Coverage
By Lastfreethinker on 5/23/2009 5:18:04 PM , Rating: 2
True, which is why it would only work in space, and even then the applications would be limited. Since you just look for the gap of stars.

RE: Wide Spectrum Coverage
By JonnyDough on 5/24/2009 8:48:26 PM , Rating: 1
Hey moron. First of all, who cares if you can see? You can still receive radio signals. So a predator drone in the air and a commander can tell you when to expose yourself and fire, giving you an element of surprise. Also, there are other ways to "see". Light isn't required to see.

RE: Wide Spectrum Coverage
By ArcliteHawaii on 5/21/2009 5:31:45 PM , Rating: 2
The enemies that the USA and other western governments are fighting these days only have access to the visible spectrum. They don't even have night vision. We won't have a full frontal confrontation with a technological country like China or Russia that might have wide spectrum sensing capabilities. So for now, the visible spectrum is more than sufficient.

RE: Wide Spectrum Coverage
By Lastfreethinker on 5/23/2009 4:57:06 PM , Rating: 2
Night vision is the visible spectrum. I assume you mean Infrared.

RE: Wide Spectrum Coverage
By MrPoletski on 5/27/2009 6:38:27 AM , Rating: 2
I'm fairly sure both infra red cameras and photomultipliers are used under the same umbrella of 'nightvision' amongst their other uses. I could be wrong though.

I suppose the photomultiplier tube was invented first and made its way into nightvision goggles first but hey...

By CU on 5/21/2009 12:20:10 PM , Rating: 3
So what cloaks the clocking device?

RE: Question?
By kattanna on 5/21/2009 12:49:09 PM , Rating: 2
LOL good question. this seems nothing more then a neat nerd thing to do, while completely missing the whole point.

when your "cloaking device" is 100 times bigger, at least, then the item being "cloaked" then.. you are not really making it unseen to anyone

RE: Question?
By unrated on 5/21/2009 2:07:57 PM , Rating: 5
My thought exactly.

Sir, we've detected a giant waveguide moving towards us.
Is there anything inside?
No, we don't see anything.
Well then don't worry about it. I'm sure its nothing.

RE: Question?
By Seemonkeyscanfly on 5/21/2009 3:27:17 PM , Rating: 2
OK something to think about... We all know, if a tree falls in a forest and no sees it... does it still make a noise. Well, If I'm cloaked and trip and fall into the grand Cannon. Will anyone hear my blood curdling scream as I reach max velocity plunging towards the earth??

RE: Question?
By DigitalFreak on 5/21/2009 6:09:10 PM , Rating: 2
WTF is the grand Cannon?

RE: Question?
By akosixiv on 5/21/2009 8:01:23 PM , Rating: 2
Grand Cannon... nice, subtle RA2 reference there.

Place Grand cannon on a bottleneck and place that shroud generator next to it.

My solution to that would be 40 something kirov spaced nicely sent barreling straight into enemy base camp.

RE: Question?
By Flail on 5/22/2009 12:10:28 AM , Rating: 2
Well that kills anything, but will cost you 40 bajillion in cash. Although if they have even 5 bajillion in anti-air you're screwed. Imo Tanya/spy combo is pretty good for that. Spy knocks out power while tanya blows everything up. If there's no tesla coils you can actually do it with just tanya. If they have walled in plants + dogs, then you need a superweapon or a lot of aircraft if they don't have anti-air.

If there's only like 1-2 though, chances are you can tank rush the crap out of them, and if there's like 20 chances are they have almost no army at all besides those grand cannons, and by the time they have 20 you should have like,5x more tanks, so 100 tanks. So yeah tank rush works a lot of the time. Unless they have spider drones >_<.

RE: Question?
By Flail on 5/22/2009 12:00:45 AM , Rating: 2
he meant Grand Canyon, guys -_-

By Screwballl on 5/21/2009 11:57:57 AM , Rating: 2
To boldly go where no man has gone before.

RE: boldly
By General Disturbance on 5/21/2009 12:03:31 PM , Rating: 4
Oooh oooh I know!

The cheerleader's locker room at your local high school/college/university!

Ooohhhh all the towel drying assists and breasts comparing...

/Homer drool...

RE: boldly
By nixoofta on 5/21/2009 2:05:03 PM , Rating: 4
Captain Archer: "T'Pal. Are you picking up any lifesigns?"

T'Pal: "I'm picking up three lifesigns but,..."

Captain Archer: "What is it?"

T'Pal: "One of them seems to have a hair cloaked."

RE: boldly
By Seemonkeyscanfly on 5/21/2009 3:16:28 PM , Rating: 2
Errr to take a dump on the front lawn of the White House??? pretty sure no one has gone there before.

Romulan Bird
By CColtManM on 5/21/2009 12:30:48 PM , Rating: 2
I love the look of that Romulan ship. Love it!

RE: Romulan Bird
By acase on 5/21/2009 12:46:52 PM , Rating: 5
...yah but it would have been more applicable to the article if it was just a shot of empty space.

RE: Romulan Bird
By TheDoc9 on 5/21/2009 2:29:33 PM , Rating: 5
+ a planet size lens hiding a romulan ship.

By winterwatchers on 5/21/2009 11:52:33 AM , Rating: 2
Make it so that it is also invisible to radar and thermo and it'll be all set.

After all if Star Trek is ever to become reality, I doubt there will be spaceship engagement within eyesight range of one another. Similarly with Special ground ops. They will need cloak for just infrared and visibility

RE: Awesome
By CU on 5/21/2009 12:18:15 PM , Rating: 3
If you only cloaked it to radar, thermo, and other long range detections, then spaceship engagements at eyesight range would be all that is left. Although finding a spaceship invisible to long range senors would be worse than finding a needle in a hay stack.

RE: Awesome
By MrPoletski on 5/25/2009 11:49:17 AM , Rating: 1
you can use any wavelength of light to detect objects, all the way from ELF radio at about 3 hz all the way up to the x-ray spectrum in the teraherts order and I bet somebody would work out how to use gamma rays in the future too. Trouble is at the low end of the spectrum your object must be very large to be detected at all (at least your wavelength in size) and and the highest frequencies your object must be very close to you.

I think glass is the best cloaking device yeah, you take some glass, you look at it, you can't see it, cloaked!

RE: Awesome
By juuvan on 5/22/2009 6:52:47 AM , Rating: 2
well one needs to bend space to achieve that, not the light.

RE: Awesome
By foolsgambit11 on 5/22/2009 6:49:13 PM , Rating: 3
I like that you started your post with "Make it so". Very Picard.

Ive just realised....
By Ozziedogg on 5/21/2009 4:23:13 PM , Rating: 5
.. that I dont really have a receeding hairline, some cheeky bugger has just gone and cloaked my forehead.

RE: Ive just realised....
By grandpope on 5/21/2009 5:20:26 PM , Rating: 4
I was thinking the same thing!

used it to cloak objects up to 50 microns -- the size of a human hair.

Why are we spending all this time and money researching something that nature has been doing for thousands of years?

U.S. Government has a fully functional model
By DRMichael on 5/21/2009 6:37:01 PM , Rating: 2's called TARP

By MadMan007 on 5/21/2009 9:11:19 PM , Rating: 2
That's a non-reversible cloak only suited to the moneygreen wavelength of light though, this is so much better!

By poohbear on 5/24/2009 9:04:06 AM , Rating: 2
so when will nanasuits be available for me to purchase that allow me to cloak myself? add in a super speed and super strength option in the deluxe addition ure set.

RE: nanosuits?
By MrPoletski on 5/25/2009 11:50:23 AM , Rating: 2
but will they run crysis?

Politics always gets in the way, though...
By Motoman on 5/21/2009 12:17:07 PM , Rating: 1
...such as our treaty with the Romulans. They're so huffy about everything..."offend the Romulan Empire" this and "Tal-Shiar" that, blah blah blah.

By DXRick on 5/22/2009 1:43:03 PM , Rating: 2
They will just sue for patent infringement.

By chmilz on 5/21/2009 12:45:53 PM , Rating: 3
Forget blind people not being able to hear hybrids coming... soon we'll be able to run down folks with or without any disabilities, no discrimination necessary!

Ultimate camouflage
By Jansen on 5/21/2009 11:52:59 AM , Rating: 2
Would love to have this next time I'm in the field.

Optical computing and microscopes
By Shig on 5/21/2009 12:54:10 PM , Rating: 2
I'm a computer science major and also have a lot of interest in genetics and biosciences. Being able to refract light below an index of 0 opens so many doors, can't wait to see what they develop.

By Davelo on 5/21/2009 12:57:49 PM , Rating: 2
Let me know when they have real cloaking. I think one day some enterprising physicist will stumble onto a major breakthrough and find that invisibility is based on quantum mechanics.

By bman on 5/21/2009 1:32:24 PM , Rating: 2
I think that the more interesting product of this research are superlens that can beat the diffraction limit.

By DigitalFreak on 5/21/2009 6:11:48 PM , Rating: 2
Had to laugh when I read this. Anyone remember the invisible guy in the X-Files episode Je Souhaite?

By vulcanproject on 5/21/2009 7:34:18 PM , Rating: 2
'An ancestor of mine maintained that when you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth. If we did not fire those torpedoes, another ship did.'

"I modded down, down, down, and the flames went higher." -- Sven Olsen

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