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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 ā€” nearly limitless ā€” 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 NĀ°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.

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