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Thursday, 09 May 2013 11:07

Invisible cloaks built on a 3D printer

Written by Nick Farrell



30 points for Gryffindor

Computer wizards are close to printing invisible cloaks on their 3D printers. An assistant research professor in electrical and computer engineering, Yaroslav Urzhumov, said "anyone who can spend a couple thousand dollars on a non-industry grade 3D printer can literally make a plastic cloak overnight."

Urzhumov and his team produced a polymer plastic disk that was capable of deflecting microwave beams. He said he is confident that in the "not-so-distant future," they will be able to create an invisible cloak able to ward off higher wavelengths, like visible light.

"We believe this approach is a way towards optical cloaking, including visible and infrared," he said. "And nanotechnology is available to make these cloaks from transparent polymers or glass. The properties of transparent polymers and glasses are not that different from what we have in our polymer at microwave frequencies."

The good thing about a 3D printer is that it "eliminates the 'shadow'" that would be cast and makes it easier for something to be invisible. The bright, highly reflective object, like a metal cylinder, is made invisible. The microwaves are carefully guided by a thin dielectric shell and then re-radiated back into free space on the shadow side of the cloak, he said.

Soon anyone who has access to a 3D printer will be able to create a cloak and go and save the world from You-Know-Who.

Nick Farrell

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