Tuesday, May 29, 2012
Mathematicians Can Conjure Matter Waves Inside an Invisible Hat
Invisibility, once the subject of magic or legend, is slowly becoming reality. Over the past five years mathematicians and other scientists have been working on devices that enable invisibility cloaks – perhaps not yet concealing Harry Potter, but at least shielding small objects from detection by microwaves or sound waves.
A University of Washington mathematician is part of an international team working to understand invisibility and extend its possible applications. The group has now devised an amplifier that can boost light, sound or other waves while hiding them inside an invisible container.
“You can isolate and magnify what you want to see, and make the rest invisible,” said corresponding author Gunther Uhlmann, a UW mathematics professor. “You can amplify the waves tremendously. And although the wave has been magnified a lot, you still cannot see what is happening inside the container.”
The findings were published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.