Photo of the Week -- German Researchers Create Elastic 'Invisibility Cloak'

by / July 1, 2014

In years past, cloaks that make objects appear invisible or let heat or sound pass uninfluenced have been developed. But researchers at Germany's Karlsruhe Institute of Technology have created a new type of invisibility cloak -- one that prevents an object from being touched. 

According to the university, the cloak is based on a metamaterial – one that exhibits properties not typically found in natural materials – that consists of a 3-D polymer microstructure formed by needle-shaped cones. This metamaterial structure is built around the object to be hidden, with its mechanical properties dictated by those of the object.

As Gizmag reported, to make an "unfeelability cloak," you need a rigid wall around which a structure can be wrapped to make the interior feel identical to the surrounding. To accomplish this, the researchers "placed a hard cylinder beneath the spring-like elastic metamaterial and found it to be undetectable to the touch of a finger or through tactile pressure with a measurement instrument. It was, to all intents and purposes, "invisible," as was anything placed inside the hollow interior."

This "invisibility cloak" the university says, may open up the door to interesting applications in a few years, such as very thin, light -- yet still comfortable -- camping mattresses or carpets hiding cables and pipelines below.