Scientists have created two new types of materials that can bend light the wrong way, creating the first step toward an invisibility cloaking device. One approach uses a type of fishnet of metal layers to reverse the direction of light, while another uses tiny silver wires, both at the nanoscale level.
Both are so-called metamaterials -- artificially engineered structures that have properties not seen in nature, such as negative refractive index.
The two teams were working separately under the direction of Xiang Zhang of the Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center at the University of California, Berkeley, with U.S. government funding. One team reported its findings in the journal Science and the other in the journal Nature.
"However, cloaking may be something that this material could be used for in the future," one scientist said. "You'd have to wrap whatever you wanted to cloak in the material. It would just send light around. By sending light around the object that is to be cloaked, you don't see it."
So what would you do if you could be invisible for a day?
Play practical jokes?
Become a secret agent?
I'm thinking I could sure see a lot of free movies. As long as no one sat on me.