Scientific innovation in the past Century has moved at such a brisk pace that much of what was considered science fiction in previous decades, is now a reality. Driverless cars and unmanned drones are quick becoming commonplace. So it is easy to assume that few new innovations are capable of inciting excitement among the technology riddled people of today.
However, the latest news out of the University of California – Berkeley is astounding, even by the standards of contemporary rampant technological advances. Researchers at that institution assert they have made major headway in the development of an invisibility cloak.
Although the assertion seems to be pulled right out of a Harry Potter movie; the researchers had no magic spells at their disposal in the development of this material. Instead, the fundamental focus is on getting rays of light to go around an object without distortion explains the co-author of the study and material scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Xiang Zhang.
The material developed can be considered an advanced form of camouflage equipment. It utilizes tiny biological cells that enable the depiction of objects behind the bearer of the fabric, such that the background is seen on the bearer, instead of that individual’s form.
In a press release, the researchers explain that light is reflected from the surface of this fabric in a similar manner to the reflection of light off a flat mirror. Previous iterations of this technology could only be used for regular, geometric shapes; not on uneven forms.
There are many shortcomings so far. Firstly, the cloak developed so far is very small. According to Zhang, the team needs another five to ten years to develop the fabric in utilizable quantities. Considering that it is to be made of several man-made meta-materials; the cost of the fabric will also likely remain quite high at least in the foreseeable future.
Although the fabric allows more flexibility of use than its predecessors; it can still not be used to create universal sized-articles of clothing. Instead, it shall have to be tailored specifically for each individual.
Even though they have ascribed an extended timeline for the commercial introduction of this fabric; the researchers contend it may one day be utilized in a diverse array of areas; from military and defense, to fashion and cosmetic surgery. Whenever this happens, the use of the fabric is bound to spread quickly and onto many other uses that are as yet unimagined.
Source: The Christian Science Monitor