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by Mike Zazaian October 20, 2006 - 12:46pm, 5 Comments

Graphic of the invisibility cloak at work in a video demonstration

A team of researchers at Duke university have created a substance that deflects electromagnetic waves to imbue similar properties as a mythical Invisibility Cloak

Using a series of concentric circles on a fiberglass board, scientists were able to deflect electromagnetic waves without creating substantial reflections and shadows. Because the properties of the board limit the scattering and absorption that most substances have on such waves, the circles on the board appeared as significantly less visible to researchers during the tests. Said David R. Smith, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Duke University:

The origin for the cloaking circles come from a paper by Sir John Pendry, a professor at Imperial College of London. Pendry worked alongside the Duke team to put his theory into practice by using print circuit boards to create a working prototype.

And while announcement of the technology has sparked discussion over its usage in military and communications applications, Smith says that scientists are a long ways away from making the USS Enterprise disappear:

[The work] is really a scientific explanation. Whether it’s useful is always a question.

Smith also said that while the cloaking device functions in the electromagnetic spectrum, creating a device that deflects waves in the visible spectrum would be an entirely different ballgame. Rather than simply deflecting microwaves, a true visual invisibility device would have to alter light along its entire wavelength. Smith called the prospect of such a device dim, but added, the theory doesn’t prevent it from an electromagnetic point of view.
Read cnet, via The New York Times
Press Release from Duke University