Cool, right? And the Americans have their own version. Once the attributes are decided it really wasn’t something difficult to design. Meta-materials are opening a whole new world of discoveries. So what is a meta-material?
A meta-material is a material that is not found in nature. The heading of a material may include subheadings such as cotton or wool, but the subheadings under meta-materials would include whatever the scientists might have engineered. Each individual material is made from taking characteristics of two or more different substances and making a new material that has those desired qualities. In the case of the invisibility cloak the characteristics they were after were those that caused the bending of the light rays. Sand is one. It causes the ‘mirage effect’. After all is said and done the scientist ended up able to make a material that bent light around the cloak leaving it invisible to the naked eye. But like all developments that lend tactical advantage, scientists have come up with something to remove that advantage, the anti-cloaking device.
Within days of the announcement of the cloaking ability, the Chinese have announced the anti-cloaking device. Before considering how that might work consider first how the cloaking works. It is all a matter of scattering, bouncing, absorbing or reflecting the light rays that would strike the object. Consider the fact that an object is only seen because lighting allows one to see it. Now use something to change the reaction of light to the object, have the light scatter or bend around it. Now it is invisible. But this takes into consideration only the visible light spectrum. Now consider how to erase the effects. The anti-cloak would be a meta-material with optical qualities that matched that of the material – in techno speak “the anisotropic negative refractive index material that is impedance matched to the positive refractive index of the invisibility cloak.”
Now consider the cloaking device currently in development. A space ship is flying in outer space where enemies could come at them in 360 degrees. For this, cloaking is a tad more difficult. This currently is being designed using a plasma membrane this becomes more easy. In 1991, such a device was patented. Cool Again, no?
Before this has become mainstream, that we know of, the anti-cloaking device for this is being worked out. The concept works on the advisement of the mass of a selected area versus counteracting the invisibility. An object is hidden to the eye directly in front of you, but you are scanning and can tell that what appears empty, as an empty area in space or in a field has a mass of a ship or maybe a tank. There are still problems with this, development falters when the sun isn’t out, but certainly it easier to find the loophole when you are already almost there! Now you see it, now you don’t, but you know it’s there.
Just like that invisibility undone. Seems almost unfair!