New ‘invisibility cloak’ works with visible light

St Andrews University physicists have produced a new material that they say could form the basis of a Harry Potter-style invisibility cloak.

Although ‘cloaks’ have already been created that can shield objects  from both terahertz and near infrared waves, it’s harder to perform the same trick with visible light because of its smaller wavelength. It’s necessary to make the metamaterial’s constituent part – meta-atoms – small enough to interact with visible light.

But the St Andrews team has developed an elaborate technique which frees the meta-atoms from the substrate they are constructed on.

Stacking them together and then lifting them away from the substrate can create an independent, flexible material which can be used in a wide range of applications. This could incude the creation of contact lenses that would provide perfect eyesight.

“The impact of our new material Meta-flex is ubiquitous. It could be possible to use Meta-flex for creating smart fabrics placed on disposable contact lenses to create superlenses that could further enhance vision,” says Dr Andrea Di Falco.

“Typical lenses generally have some form of limitation, such as aberration or limited resolution, but these perfect lenses would have none of these deficiencies.”

The research appears in the New Journal of Physics.