Owning an invisibility cloak could soon turn into reality, according to scientists at Queen Mary University of London’s School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science. The researchers have made a material that allows protruding surfaces to appear flat to electromagnetic waves.

The research team used a composite material with non-size particles to coat a curved surface that had the size of a tennis ball. The nanocomposite medium has seven different layers, also known as graded index nanocomposite. Each layer contains different electric properties. They believe this approach would hide an object that normally could have caused the wave to be scattered.

They successfully made the rounded shape look flat under certain frequencies. Scientists have actually known about this method before but earlier studies only demonstrated this working at one frequency. Now, the new research used it to cloak objects at a greater range of frequencies.

invisibility cloak

The ‘cloak’ in action. Credit: Dr La Spada

Although the research team did not create the invisibility cloak like what we saw in J.K Rowling’s Harry Potter series, the study shows that making objects invisible is not limited to science fiction anymore. According to the study’s first author Luigi La Spada, from QMUL’s School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science, understanding and manipulating surface waves is fundamental to solving technological and industrial problems.

Once the scientists perfected their invention, the invisibility cloak could not only be used for fun or other personal purposes, but can also be used in different fields, which include engineering applications like nano-antennas and instruments used in aerospace.

“We demonstrated a practical possibility to use nanocomposites to control surface wave propagation through advanced additive manufacturing,” points out the study’s co-author Yang Hao. “Perhaps most importantly, the approach used can be applied to other physical phenomena that are described by wave equations, such as acoustics. For this reason, we believe that this work has a great industrial impact.”