Oct 19, 2006

so much for that

NewScientist's headline trumpets, "Working invisibility cloak created at last." The article, though, is a little more mundane:
To simplify the problem, Smith's cloak works in only two dimensions. It is about the size of a movie reel canister and consists of a series of concentric rings, each housing a set of simple electronic components that distort an electromagnetic field as it passes through....

"It's not perfect," says Leonhardt. "If you could see in the microwave region of the spectrum, the copper ring would not quite disappear. You'd see perhaps a shadow and some slight distortion where the copper ring ought to be."

The device has another important limitation – it works only at a single specific frequency of microwave. "How it might be possible to make a device that works over a range of frequencies is an open problem," says Leonhardt. But Smith now hopes to build a 3D structure that could hide an object completely from view.

So far, the technology works only in the microwave region of the spectrum. The problem with visible light is that it has a much smaller wavelength, meaning an optical metamaterial would have to be built on the nanoscale, which is beyond the limits of current nanotechnology. It, too, would only work at a specific frequency.
Boo-urns, NewScientist, for shattering our hopes and dashing our dreams.

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