Elena Semouchkina, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at Michigan Tech has made a discovery of a lifetime. She found a way to bend light in such a way that she can make anything invisible to the human eye. Semouchkina uses magnetic resonance to capture rays of visible light and route them around objects, making those objects invisible to the human eye. Semouchkina and her team’s discovery was named one of the top three physics discoveries of the decade by the American Physical Society.
Semouchkina’s “invisibility cloak” is made up entirely of a special glass-like material that does not conduct electricity, as opposed to the metal and wire versions that have been created by other physicists.
It being made up of glass might not be as big a deal as the idea of invisibility itself, but when combined with the recently created “spray-on glass“, everything (at least in theory) can be turned invisible, including living things and moving machines such as tanks.
Spray-on glass is a newly invented form of glass that comes in liquid form. It is harmless to the environment, forms an easy-clean coating one millionth of a millimetre thick – 500 times thinner than a human hair, and can be applied to virtually any surface to protect it against water, dirt, bacteria, heat and UV radiation.
The liquid glass coating is flexible and breathable, which means it can be used on living things such as plants and seeds. It has even proven to make plants grow faster and healthier than without the glass coating as it protects against germs and other parasites that attack plants.
“Very soon almost every product you purchase will be protected with a highly durable, easy-to-clean coating … the concept of spray-on glass is mind-boggling,” said Neil McClelland, Nanopool’s UK project manager, which is the company that created the liquid glass.
The spray cannot be seen by the naked eye, which means it could also be used to treat clothing and other materials to make them stain-resistant. McClelland said you can “pour a bottle of wine over an expensive silk shirt and it will come right off”.
And when combined with Semouchkina’s invisibility function, it will lead to a whole new generation of “hidden cameras” and military technology. It is safe to say that we will be seeing this type of technology being used by the military in the near future, and maybe even households for temporarily “tidying up” before having guests over.