Researchers at Cambridge University in the UK have developed a new material that uses light to cloak objects and render them invisible to the human eye. Unlike regular materials, which simply reflect or absorb light, the nanoscale metamaterial refracts light in unusual directions.
The technique involves controlling the way that light passes through minuscule building blocks a few billionths of a metre across. These blocks are joined together using an unfocused laser light like a needle to stitch gold nanoparticles into strings, which are then stacked on top of each other. When the blocks are joined together, the effect can obscure whole areas of the material from sight.
Creating optical nanomaterials is highly challenging, but they could have numerous potential applications – especially in the development of military stealth technology. For more on captivating camouflage material treatments and pioneering finishes, see Under The Radar and our Materials Focus 2014-15 rationale Interrupted Surfaces.