PC Magazine 05-02-07 Future Watch: An Invisibility Suit

PC Magazine
Future Watch: An Invisibility Suit
By John Brandon
Science is finally catching up with science fiction.
It started with cloaking materials, called metamaterials, developed at Ames
Laboratory, at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa. Such materials can
deflect microwave emissions around an object and restore them on the other
side, rendering the object invisible. And recently the Ames Lab, which is owned
by the U.S. Department of Energy, has achieved the same effect using visible
light, giving metamaterial a negative refractive index. Think of it as the same
visual trick that occurs when a river current flows over a rock to make it invisible.
"Right now, the materials we can build at terahertz and optical wavelengths
operate in only one direction," says Costas Soukoulis, senior physicist at
Ames Lab, "but we've still come a long ways in the six years since negativeindex materials were first demonstrated."
The experiment could lead to new Defense Department stealth tactics, especially
for weapons and equipment. And Soukoulis says the metamaterials could also
be used in lens fabrication to create high-resolution images for molecular
detection, aiding medical diagnoses.