Thin Invisibility Cloak Demonstrated for First Time

Invisibility cloaking is no longer the stuff of science fiction: two researchers in The Edward S. Rogers Sr. Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering have demonstrated an effective invisibility cloak that is thin, scalable and adaptive to different types and sizes of objects. Professor George Eleftheriades and Ph.D. student Michael Selvanayagam have designed and tested a new approach to cloaking—by surrounding an object with small antennas that collectively radiate an electromagnetic field. The radiated field cancels out any waves scattering off the cloaked object. Their paper was published online on November 12, 2013 in an open-access article in Physical Review X. “We’ve taken an electrical engineering approach, but that’s what we are excited about,” says Professor Eleftheriades. “It’s very practical.” Picture a mailbox sitting on the street. When light hits the mailbox and bounces back into your eyes, you see the mailbox. When radio waves hit the mailbox and bounce back to your radar detector, you detect the mailbox. Eleftheriades and Selvanyagam’s system wraps the mailbox in a layer of tiny antennas that radiate a field away from the box, cancelling out any waves that would bounce back. In this way, the mailbox becomes undetectable to radar. “We’ve demonstrated a different way of doing it,” says Professor Eleftheriades. “It’s very simple: instead of surrounding what you’re trying to cloak with a thick metamaterial shell, we surround it with one layer of tiny antennas, and this layer radiates back a field that cancels the reflections from the object.” Their experimental demonstration effectively cloaked a metal cylinder from radio waves using one layer of loop antennas.
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