Bring on the Invisibility Cloaks
Black is getting blacker.
Researchers in New York
reported this month that they have created a paper-thin material that
absorbs 99.955 percent of the light that hits it, making it by far the
darkest substance ever made — about 30 times as dark as the
government’s current standard for blackest black.
The material, made of hollow fibers, is a Roach Motel for photons —
light checks in, but it never checks out. By voraciously sucking up all
surrounding illumination, it can give those who gaze on it a dizzying
sensation of nothingness.
“It’s very deep, like in a forest on the darkest night,” said Shawn-Yu Lin, a scientist who helped create the material at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y. “Nothing comes back to you. It’s very, very, very dark.”
But scientists are not satisfied. Using other new materials, some are trying to manufacture rudimentary Harry Potter-like
cloaks that make objects inside of them literally invisible under the
right conditions — the pinnacle of stealthy technology.
Though should that happen, the first examples will be comparable to 1960s supercomputers than today’s iPhones or Blackberrys. Never mind the following scenario posed by John Pendry, a physics professor at Imperial College London:
Pendry added a cautionary note about invisible cloaks, making a
real-life distinction from the stuff of fiction: People inside them
will not be able to see out. By definition, if no light is bouncing off
them, none can reach their eyes, either. “You’d have to use signals
other than light to communicate,” Pendry said.
Asked for an example of what would work, he paused for a moment.
“You could always talk to them,” he said.
Something tells me that’s not what defense departments really want to hear….