David Kirkpatrick

October 17, 2008

Transformation optics promise big payoff

It’s been quite a while since I’ve blogged on the possibility of a “cloak of invisibility,” so this PhysOrg article caught my eye. It covers a research field known as transformation optics, and the promise there is great. We’re talking the aforementioned cloak, plusultra-powerful microscopes and computers. All this is done by harnessing nanotechnology and “metamaterials.”

From the second link:

The field, which applies mathematical principles similar to those in Einstein’s theory of general relativity, will be described in an article to be published Friday (Oct. 17) in the journal Science. The article will appear in the magazine’s Perspectives section and was written by Vladimir Shalaev, Purdue’s Robert and Anne Burnett Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

The list of possible breakthroughs includes a cloak of invisibility; computers and consumer electronics that use light instead of electronic signals to process information; a “planar hyperlens” that could make optical microscopes 10 times more powerful and able to see objects as small as DNA; advanced sensors; and more efficient solar collectors.

“Transformation optics is a new way of manipulating and controlling light at all distances, from the macro- to the nanoscale, and it represents a new paradigm for the science of light,” Shalaev said. “Although there were early works that helped to develop the basis for transformation optics, the field was only recently established thanks in part to papers by Sir John Pendry at the Imperial College, London, and Ulf Leonhardt at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland and their co-workers.”

August 11, 2008

Cloaking device becoming feasible?

From KurzweilAI.net — I’ve blogged on 3D cloaking devices before, very likely the previous KurzweilAI.net linked blog post from mid-May is an earlier report of this project. Both stories originate from UC Berkeley.

At any rate, here’s 3D cloaking part two:

Practical Cloaking Devices On The Horizon?
PhysOrg.com, Aug. 10, 2008University of California, Berkeley scientists have created a multilayered, “fishnet” metamaterial that unambiguously exhibits negative refractive index, allowing for invisibility in three dimensions for the first time, Nature magazine plans to report this week.

 
Read Original Article>>

 

Update — Here’s another take on this story, once again from PhysOrg. This time with pictures!

From the link:

Two breakthroughs in the development of metamaterials – composite materials with extraordinary capabilities to bend electromagnetic waves – are reported separately this week in the Aug. 13 advanced online issue of Nature, and in the Aug. 15 issue of Science.

Applications for a metamaterial entail altering how light normally behaves. In the case of invisibility cloaks or shields, the material would need to curve light waves completely around the object like a river flowing around a rock. For optical microscopes to discern individual, living viruses or DNA molecules, the resolution of the microscope must be smaller than the wavelength of light.

The common thread in such metamaterials is negative refraction. In contrast, all materials found in nature have a positive refractive index, a measure of how much electromagnetic waves are bent when moving from one medium to another.

In a classic illustration of how refraction works, the submerged part of a pole inserted into water will appear as if it is bent up towards the water’s surface. If water exhibited negative refraction, the submerged portion of the pole would instead appear to jut out from the water’s surface. Or, to give another example, a fish swimming underwater would instead appear to be moving in the air above the water’s surface

And here’s the image:

On the left is a schematic of the first 3-D "fishnet" metamaterial that can achieve a negative index of refraction at optical frequencies. On the right is a scanning electron microscope image of the fabricated structure, developed by UC Berkeley researchers. The alternating layers form small circuits that can bend light backwards. Image by Jason Valentine, UC Berkeley
On the left is a schematic of the first 3-D “fishnet” metamaterial that can achieve a negative index of refraction at optical frequencies. On the right is a scanning electron microscope image of the fabricated structure, developed by UC Berkeley researchers. The alternating layers form small circuits that can bend light backwards. Image by Jason Valentine, UC Berkeley