We like science and technology so when Mashable posted a report that researchers at the University of Texas, Austin had created a light scattering metascreen–we had to check it out.

Light scattering metascreen?  See also ‘invisibility cloak.’  Well, sort of.

Titled “Demonstration of an ultralow profile cloak for scattering suppression of a finite-length rod in free space,” their research, published in the New Journal of Physics, describes a cloak consisting of 66 µm-thick copper tape and 100 µm-thick flexible polycarbonate film which scatters and cancels out incoming waves.

At this stage the researchers agree that the same process could be applied to visible light wavelengths but that the objects they could “hide” would have to be very small.

PHYS.org provides more detail.

Whilst previous cloaking studies have used metamaterials to divert, or bend, the incoming waves around an object, this new method, which the researchers dub “mantle cloaking”, uses an ultrathin metallic metascreen to cancel out the waves as they are scattered off the cloaked object.

“When the scattered fields from the cloak and the object interfere, they cancel each other out and the overall effect is transparency and invisibility at all angles of observation,” said co-author of the study Professor Andrea Alu.

“The advantages of the mantle cloaking over existing techniques are its conformability, ease of manufacturing and improved bandwidth.

Moving forward, one of the key challenges for the researchers will be to use “mantle cloaking” to hide an object from visible light. “In principle this technique could also be used to cloak light,” continued Professor Alu.

Using metamaterials to bend light around an object
Using metamaterials to bend light around an object

Geeky and very cool.

Remember, the computer used to fill entire rooms and now you can carry exponentially more power with you wherever you need it.  So someday the researchers may find a way to hide objects with advanced metascreens the way your dryer hides your missing socks or your kitchen table hides your car keys.

*Here’s another story from last December about invisibility cloaks, using metamaterials.