Scientists Invent Harry Potter’s Invisibility Cloak—Sort Of

The garment only works in a lab, but scientists say this is one step closer to a cloak that can conceal anyone in broad daylight

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© Lucas Jackson / REUTERS

A portrait of Harry Potter actor Daniel Radcliffe

Rejoice, Harry Potter fans! Scientists have invented a miniature version of the boy wizard’s invisibility cloak, though so far it works only in microwave light, not visible light, reported CBS NEWS.

In a study recently published in the New Journal of Physics, developers say their “3-D stand-alone mantle cloak,” the first ultra-thin invisibility cloak ever invented, is one step closer to a real invisibility cloak that can hide a Harry Potter or anyone else in broad daylight.

(More: A Harry Potter-Style Invisibility Cloak: Possible, Says Science)

In lab tests,  scientists at the University of Texas, Austin, wrapped an 18-centimeter long cylindrical rod under their cloak and successfully made it disappear when they beamed microwaves at the object.

According to NBC News, the researchers made the garment from a metascreen, a super-thin material created from strips of copper attached to a flexible polycarbonate film. The copper strips are only 66-micrometers thick, while the polycarbonate film is 100-micrometers thick.

Scientists also used a new technique called mantle cloaking, which cancels out light waves that bounce off the shielded object to achieve an overall effect of transparency and “invisibility at all angles of observation,” study co-author Andrea Alu told CBS NEWS.

This is not the first time that scientists have built something that can make objects vanish. In 2011, researcher Shuang Zhang at the University of Birmingham developed a cloak from a lump of crystal that can make small objects seem to disappear. In the same year, rsearcher Ali Aliev at the University of Texas, Dallas exploited the mirage effect and made threads of an invisibility cloak from carbon nanotubes.

(More: Gadzooks, Another Invisibility Cloak! So Why Is This One ‘Perfect’?)

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