London, July 4 : Two scientists at Imperial College London say that they have an idea to make a carpet that can make anything swept under it to seem to disappear.
Jensen Li and John Pendry say that regular silica and silicon can be used to make such a carpet.
According to them, the carpet would work across the spectrum of visible light, something no other cloaking scheme has yet been able to achieve.
Most modern schemes are based on 'metamaterials', materials possessing carefully crafted internal structures that can alter the path of light.
Pendry says that his idea, though seems complex, is actually fairly simple.
The researcher says that the material can bend light by different amounts at different points, much as a heated column of air can cause the horizon to shimmer.
"It's basically just an attempt to make a controlled mirage," Nature magazine quoted him as saying.
Scientists have to date found metamaterials to work only at wavelengths longer than that of visible light, or at very specific colours or wavelengths.
Li and Pendry claim that their new concept is better because it attempts to make an object look like a flat surface, instead of making it disappear altogether.
The researchers said that a carpet based on their idea would actually look highly reflective, much like a mirror.
That would make the carpet, as well as anyone hiding under it, pretty conspicuous unless it was laid down on a mirrored surface.
"(Even then) You wouldn't want to use it to hide people or anything really big," Pendry said.
Scientists, however, believe that the carpet would be an "important step toward making the dream of invisibility true," and would probably lead to some useful technologies.
Knowledge gained from invisibility carpets may also be helpful for researchers trying to use metamaterials to create radar-invisible skins for ships and planes and optical computing, Pendry said.