Researchers Approach 'invisibility'

BOSTON, Aug. 20 (UPI) — Harry Potter, be prepared — your invisibility cloak may yet become a reality, researchers in the Unites States say.

A team at Tufts University near Boston led by an Italian physicist turned bioengineer has created a material that could eventually render whatever it covers invisible to the human eye, Italian news agency ANSA reported Wednesday.

In the material, Fiorenzo Omenetto says, tiny structures smaller than electromagnetic waves are put together to divert those waves around them, much like a rock diverts water in a stream.

The design currently only works with terahertz waves, much longer than light waves, but Omenetto believes the same concept could eventually be used to divert light waves, the only electromagnetic waves visible to the human eye.

Although an invisibility cloak could some day become a reality, the discovery may have more immediate applications, starting with biomedicine.

Materials with the ability to divert electromagnetic waves, known as metamaterials, have been around for some time but the key element in this design is that it’s human-friendly, Omenetto says.

“The real novelty with this metamaterial is that it is completely biocompatible,” he says. “This means it can be implanted directly into the human body without reactions.”

“One example is the creation of a sensor for glucose in diabetics,” Omenetto said. The implanted material would react to changes in the body’s glucose level, and could send a message to the person’s mobile phone, for example.

“Another idea would be using it to make certain organs ‘invisible’, allowing radiologists to get a better view of parts that are normally hidden underneath,” he said.

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