Race to Invent Potter's Invisibility Cloak Heats Up
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Harry Potter's invisibility cloak has not only succeeded in sparking the curiosity of kids, but some of the world's best minds, who are all vying to be the first ones to invent the material that will help things disappear!
Scientists from Duke University came up with one of the initial prototypes in 2006. However, the material had some limitations - it only worked in two dimensions and both the background and the object that needed to be hidden, had to be covered with the metamaterial. It also only hid a small area and most important of all, did not look like Harry's sleek cloak, but more like a thick yellow carpet.
However, the scientists have been working hard to improve the material and believe that a new much improved version will be ready by the end of this year.
At the University Of California in Berkley, not one, but two teams are working on this exciting project. In 2008, they announced that they had succeeded in creating two different metamaterials (artificial structures that have a smaller wavelength than light), that allows light waves to bend, rather than go straight through - effectively makes the object underneath 'disappear'. They too believe they will have a working prototype ready before too long.
Earlier this week, yet another scientist announced that he was working towards creating a yet another kind of invisibility material. Professor Ulf Leonhardt, from St. Andrew's University in Scotland, says his invention is a combination of geometry, light and a 'wee' bit of magic. While the professor has been working on his project privately since 2006, he just received funding that will finally give him the freedom to work on it full-time.
With all these amazing people working on it, we have no doubt the cloak will be a reality - we just wonder, which team will get to the finish line first!
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