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Surprising Science

New Micro Invisibility Cloak

By changing how light refracts off on object, new cloaking materials can hide tiny microphones placed on a wall—and they will do the job at all visible wavelengths.

What’s the Latest Development?

New cloaking devices can hide bumps in the wall or floor, where a small microphone or camera might be perched, at all visible wavelengths by using a porous material to bend light around the object instead of refracting off it. By drilling holes into “a thin layer of silicon nitride deposited on porous glass” with a diameter smaller than the wavelengths of visible light, scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, have successfully cloaked small bumps made by objects resting on solid surfaces. 

What’s the Big Idea?

Beyond the brand of sexy espionage or Harry Potter myth a cloaking device might inspire in the imagination, there are a host of more practical applications for the technology. Researcher at the University of CA, Berkeley, Majid Gharghi said, “We could use the same approach in solar energy devices to control sunlight and potentially increase efficiency.” This could be accomplished by diverting light around current conducting wires in solar panels, incidentally making them invisible to the naked eye. 


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