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Duke Researchers Closer To Perfecting ‘Invisibility Cloak’

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Duke researcher Nathan Landy holds the "cloaking" device. (credit: Duke University)

Duke researcher Nathan Landy holds the “cloaking” device. (credit: Duke University)

DURHAM, N.C. (CBS Charlotte) — Even Harry Potter would be impressed.

Duke University researchers believe they are closer to perfecting an “invisibility cloak” by reflecting light around a two-foot square, diamond-shaped object.

According to a university press release, Nathan Landy and David Smith reduced reflections of the light’s waves by using a different fabrication study of adding copper strips to the original 2006 object that used parallel and intersecting strips of fiberglass etched with copper.

“Each quadrant of the cloak tended to have voids, or blind spots, at their intersections and corners with each other,” Landy said. “After many calculations, we thought we could correct this situation by shifting each strip so that it met its mirror image at each interface.”

Landy claimed it worked by splitting the light waves.

“We built the cloak, and it worked,” Landy explained. “It split light into two waves which traveled around an object in the center and re-emerged as the single wave minimal loss due to reflections.”

The 2006 experiments consisted of creating “meta-materials,” which are man-made materials that are usually absent from properties from natural materials, according to the news release.

“Structures incorporating meta-materials can be designed to guide electromagnetic waves around an object, only to have them emerge on the other side as if they had passed through an empty volume of space, thereby cloaking the object,” the release states.

Smith tells BBC News that the “invisibility” only works in one direction.

“It’s like the card people in ‘Alice in Wonderland,’” told the BBC. “If they turn on their sides you can’t see them but they’re obviously visible if you look from the other direction.”

Landy says in the release that the “bend attenuates the wave within it.”

Their findings have been published in the journal Nature Materials.

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