We’re curious to learn how many scientific journeys have been embarked upon as a result of a piece of technology appearing in a kid’s film. In all honesty, the invisibility cloak has been something that kids, adults, and organisations have long considered to be the pinnacle of science although it was most definitely popularised in the Harry Potter films. Well, there may not be any need to head to Hogwarts to get your hands on one as scientists believe they’ve moved a step closer to being able to produce a real life one.
Scientists have created a flexible film that forms a metametarial. These metamaterials effectively bend the flow of light and while similar materials have been created in the past these have only served to make specific colours invisible and these colours are beyond the realms of human sight anyway. It almost sounds like a poor philosophical question – if a colour is beyond what we can see then can we see it at all? And, if we can’t see it anyway, then can anything turn it invisible?
The difficulties in creating the material is that the structure of the metamaterial needs to be extremely complex using nanostructures that are microscopically tiny. The greatest advancement in this field has been that instead of producing metamaterials that are flat and rigid it is now possible to create a flexible and almost fluid material.
OK, so honestly this apparent leap forward doesn’t sound all that great, but physicists that are held in very high regard say that it is. Ortwin Hess of Imperial College London said in an interview with BBC News that it is “a huge step forward in very many ways. It clearly isn’t an invisibility cloak yet – but it’s the right step toward that.”