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Researchers at the University of Texas in Austin are working on a battery-powered cloaking device that they claim will boost your invisibility. Working from existing invisibility cloaks that use metasurfaces to deflect and refract light, the team’s design will add batteries to boost the signal and ensure that you really are invisible in all kinds of light and conditions. The cloak is still just a theory though, but the team hopes to build a prototype soon.

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Andrea Alù, associate professor at the Cockrell School of Engineering at UT Austin, and his team recently proposed a design for an active cloak that uses battery power to amp up the cloak’s invisibility spectrum across a wider range of frequencies. Basically, by adding an external energy source, the cloak is more powerful and can keep whatever is behind it hidden better in various conditions.

Invisibility cloaks, which still seem like a crazy, futuristic possibility, work passively with high tech materials called metasurfaces that work to minimize light scattering, thus making the hidden object less visible. These materials work ok in certain conditions, but not all conditions and in bright white light, the hidden object could probably be seen. Alù and his team’s design, which was outlined in their recent paper, “Broadening the Cloaking Bandwidth with Non-Foster Metasurfaces,” was published Dec. 3 in Physical Review Letters, would use an external power source to boost the materials properties.

“We prove that cloaks can become broadband, pushing this technology far beyond current limits of passive cloaks. I believe that our design helps us understand the fundamental challenges of suppressing the scattering of various objects at multiple wavelengths and shows a realistic path to overcome them,” Alù explains. The active cloak uses a battery, circuits and amplifiers to reduce scattering of light and radio signals over a broader range of frequencies. The team also hopes that their work will improve wireless communications, biomedical sensing, near-field imaging and energy harvesting devices.

+ Press Release

+ University of Texas at Austin