Washington, Oct 17 : Your dream of owning an invisibility cloak that works just like the one Harry Potter inherited from his father is on the verge of becoming a reality, thanks to the efforts of a group of researchers who say the magical object may come to life within five years.
In a fresh attempt to bring the invisibility cloak to reality, researchers from Purdue University, Indiana are using "nanotechnology" and "metamaterials" along with Einstein's theory of general relativity.
"The whole idea behind metamaterials is to create materials designed and engineered out of artificial atoms, meta-atoms, which are smaller than the wavelengths of light itself," Shalaev said.
"One of the most exciting applications is an electromagnetic cloak that could bend light around itself, similar to the flow of water around a stone, making invisible both the cloak and an object hidden inside," he added.
In his study, Shalaev used an array of tiny needles radiating outward from a central spoke, like a round hairbrush, that would bend light around the object being cloaked inside.
These tiny needles decrease the refraction or distortion of the light to almost zero, rendering it invisible.
"Whereas relativity demonstrates the curved nature of space and time, we are able to curve space for light, and we can design and engineer tiny devices to do this," he said.
"In addition to curving light around an object to render it invisible, you could do just the opposite - concentrate light in an area, which might be used for collecting sunlight in solar energy applications.
"So, general relativity may find practical use in a number of novel optical devices based on transformation optics," he added.
The researchers hope that the new technique, would help in developing computers and consumer electronics that use light instead of electronic signals to process information; a "planar hyperlens" that could make optical microscopes 10 times more powerful and able to see objects as small as DNA; advanced sensors; and more efficient solar collectors.
The study appears in journal Science.