Brian Blum
November 15, 2017

Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak just got one small step closer to reality thanks to Israeli scientists.

And by small, we mean it. The technological breakthrough, which was published in the Scientific Reports section of the journal Nature, only refers to manipulating light around a tiny chip, the sort you’d find inside an optical device at the nano level.

It’s also only a concept so far. Researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, where the technology is being developed, commented that now the team needs to “overcome the significant challenge of developing a prototype.”

If they’re successful, the implications are wide ranging and exciting, even if it may never render a British wizard invisible long enough to escape He Who Shall Not Be Named.

The tech works like this: An “operational cloaking chip” deflects and scatters light away from the chip’s surface, so it is not detected. “The light does not interact with the object, thus resulting in the object’s invisibility,” explained Dr. Alina Karabchevsky, head of BGU’s Light-on-a-Chip group, a member of the BGU Electro-Optical Engineering Department and the Ilse Katz Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology.

Such a cloaking chip could be used as an extension of current technologies such as radar-absorbing paint used on stealth aircraft, local optical camouflage or electromagnetic wave scattering.

Eventually, much larger objects may be rendered invisible. In which case, remember these names: Yakov Galutin and Eran Falek, students at BGU who contributed to the study. The full name is Invisibility Cloaking Scheme by Evanescent Fields Distortion on Composite Plasmonic Waveguides with Si Nano-Spacer.

But we’ll just call it the “Harry Potter breakthrough.”

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Jason Harris

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