A team of scientists from the University of Rostock has devised a revolutionary process that can make artificial materials transparent or completely invisible on command. In partnership with researchers from the Vienna University of Technology, the team has devised an entirely new method for designing artificial materials that can carry light signals without distortion, using precisely controlled energy flows. In science fiction, such as Harry Potter’s Cloak of Invisibility, making anything invisible is a recurring trope. It sure sounds cool, but the reason it appears so often in stories is because it would be an extremely valuable piece of technology.
There are some obvious applications for espionage and the military, including but not limited to. Given the great utility, it should come as no surprise that scientists and engineers have been working on this technology for some time.
It all boils down to properly manipulating the light. What is even more surprising is that advances in this area can lead to improvements in sensors, telecommunications, encryption and many other technologies.
the conclusions were published in scientific journal science.
Describing the “starting point” of the process, the authors state that they focused a beam that has been thrown into an inhomogeneous optical mesh lattice. The output beam can develop high-intensity changes and deviate significantly from its initial shape at the output due to diffraction, scattering and absorption in the medium.
Professor Alexander Szmit of the Institute of Physics at the University of Rostock Told When that light travels through a non-human medium, it is scattered. This effect rapidly converts a compact, directed beam into a diffuse glow, and is equally recognizable from summer clouds and autumn fog.
The speed of energy, or more correctly, the amplification and attenuation of light, is described by a second characteristic, known in the field of photonics as non-hermeticity. Intuitively, the accompanying consequences may seem undesired – the disappearance of a light beam due to absorption, for example, would appear to be highly detrimental to the purpose of enhancing signal transmission. On the other hand, non-Hermitian effects have become an important part of modern optics, and an entire field of research is devoted to harnessing the complex interplay of loss and amplification for new functionality.
To counteract any onset of degradation, it becomes possible to intentionally increase or decrease certain components of the beam of light on a small scale. The light-scattering properties of the nebula may have to be reduced altogether in order to remain in the picture. In their study the researchers were able to generate and monitor minuscule light signal interactions with their newly designed active materials in a network of kilometer-long optical fibers.
Inspired transparency is one of the many possibilities that these discoveries open up. Prevention of scattering is insufficient if an object is to really disappear. Instead, the light waves must pass behind them completely unobstructed. However, even in the vacuum of space, diffraction alone guarantees that each signal will change shape.
The findings presented in this paper mark a watershed moment in non-Hermitian photonics research, paving the way for new approaches for the active fine-tuning of sensitive optical systems, such as medical sensors. Optical encryption and secure data transmission, as well as the creation of adaptable artificial materials with specific properties, are further potential applications.