Scientists unveil simpler-to-manufacture ‘broadband’ cloaking technology

May 21st, 2009 - 11:46 am ICT by ANI  

Washington, May 21 (ANI): Purdue University researchers claim that they have created a new type of invisibility cloak that works for all colors of the visible spectrum, making it possible to cloak larger objects than before.

Research leaders Vladimir Shalaev and Anne Burnett say that their new design may also pave the way for practical applications in “transformation optics”-such as the creation of “hyperlenses” for microscopes 10 times more powerful than those existing presently; computers and consumer electronics that use light instead of electronic signals to process information; advanced sensors; and more efficient solar collectors.

Purdue University researchers claim that they have created a new “broadband” cloaking technology that may usher in “hyperlenses” for microscopes 10 times more powerful than those existing presently

According to them, their new design is simpler than those previously made.

The researchers point out that while previous cloaking designs have used exotic “metamaterials”, which require complex nanofabrication, the new design is based on a “tapered optical waveguide”.

The significance of their work lies in the fact that waveguides represent established technology, including fiber optics, used in communications and other commercial applications.

During their study, the researchers used their specially tapered waveguide to cloak an area 100 times larger than the wavelengths of light shined by a laser into the device.

It was an unprecedented achievement because previous experiments with metamaterials have been limited to cloaking regions only a few times larger than the wavelengths of visible light.

Shalaev said that the fact that their new method enabled them to dramatically increase the cloaked area, the technology offered hope of cloaking larger objects.

“All previous attempts at optical cloaking have involved very complicated nanofabrication of metamaterials containing many elements, which makes it very difficult to cloak large objects. Here, we showed that if a waveguide is tapered properly it acts like a sophisticated nanostructured material,” the researcher said

Given that the waveguide is inherently broadband, the research team believes that it may be used to cloak the full range of the visible light spectrum.

The researchers have thus far been able to cloak an object about 50 microns in diameter, or roughly the width of a human hair, in the center of the waveguide.

“Instead of being reflected as normally would happen, the light flows around the object and shows up on the other side, like water flowing around a stone,” Shalaev said.

A research article describing their work has been published in the journal Physical Review Letters. (ANI)

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