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Cloaks of Invisibility

Researchers at the Center for Metamaterials and Integrated Plasmonics reported recently in the journal Science that the scanning sensor they’re developing captures both still and video images while simplifying compression by integrating it directly into the sensor array.

Huh? So? This leads to invisibility?

For a long time the digital images that you have dealt with have been made smaller - easier to pass online, for instance - using hardware and software programs to save the image in a "compressed" format that hopefully doesn't destroy the quality of the resulting image. Now they are perfecting a way to do that "compression" on the spot, real time, using your still camera or video capturing device. That will help eliminate the learning curve on how to reduce image size and get it ready for, say, a quality YouTube presentation. (May your creative spirit soar!)

Although the cost of optical scanner sensors has fallen rapidly, automobile manufacturers have been searching for alternatives to expensive laser radar, or Lidar, to provide sensors that work in a range of natural light conditions, including night, dust clouds and snowstorms. You know, the various awful driving conditions that we are subjected to. (Car makers yearn for safety.)

Although the design of meta-material sensors might offer high image compression ratios, the real advantages are in the potential for reductions in size. For example, the article noted, "even the most advanced planes and boats today use a mechanically steered dish antenna for radar. This requires setting aside a large space to swivel the dish". (We all hate dish swivel, don't we?)

"Our system could potentially replace that with a flat sheet wrapped onto the side of the fuselage," the Science article said.

And then there's this, probably the hardest to understand yet most amazing: "If the elements are small enough, the materials can manipulate visible light.

Metamaterials bend radiation more sharply than natural materials. One of their strangest qualities is the ability to create a structure with what scientists call a negative refractive index - a behavior of light and other forms of radiation that is not found when light waves pass through materials like glass or water. They can be aimed in many different directions, or used in parallel to increase bandwidth."

Understand? Me neither. So take a look at Googled examples on the web. For example:

They are comparing this to the H. Potter invisibility cloak.

But don't put the cloak over your automobile.


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