September 15, 2005

Romulan Defector Relocation Program Update

Scientists at U Penn are working on a cloaking device called a plasmonic screen:

According to Dr Andrea Alu and Dr Nader Engheta, the engineers behind the project, the key is to reduce light scattering.

Objects are visible because light bounces off them; if this can be prevented and if the objects did not reflect any light, they would become invisible. The "plasmonic screen" achieves this by resonating in tune with the illuminating light.

"Plasmons" are created when the electrons on the surface of a metallic material move in rhythm. The developers claim a shell of this material will reduce light-scatter to the extent that an object will become invisible, if the light’s frequency is close to the resonant frequency of these "plasmons". In this way, the scattering from the shell effectively cancels out the scattering from the object.

How seriously cool is that?

Yips! to Scribal Terror.

Posted by Robert at September 15, 2005 03:32 PM | TrackBack

That is indeed seriously cool!

Posted by: Ith at September 15, 2005 03:37 PM

I want a dress made out of that stuff.

Posted by: gail at September 15, 2005 09:05 PM

It would be seriously slimming.

Posted by: gail at September 15, 2005 09:05 PM

Don't get too excited -- note the limitations at the end of the article: "... a specific shield may only work for one wavelength of light" and ... the effect would only work in daylight when the wavelength of the light being scattered is the same size as the object - meaning only tiny things can so far be hidden", i.e., objects which are already effectively invisible.

Furthermore, the mechanism, as described, would not be effective for large bodies; it takes more than simply preventing reflections to make something invisible. The perfect absorber of electromagnetic radiation is the thermodynamic ideal black body, which as the name implies would not be invisible but would appear black.

Posted by: jd watson at September 16, 2005 12:46 AM

Oh, sure, the technology is in its infancy. I'm just impressed with the concept.

As for larger bodies, of course all Douglas Adams fans know that it would be much easier just to erect a Somebody Else's Problem field around them.

Posted by: Robbo the LB at September 16, 2005 08:24 AM

So how come Picard never instructed Wesley Crusher to reverse the plasmon field?

Posted by: rbj at September 16, 2005 08:44 AM

More promising for "cloaking" technology is active optical camouflage. See an example here:

For a nice little nod to Star Trek in real life, check out this entry on Boeing's Bird of Prey.

Posted by: JohnL at September 16, 2005 11:36 AM

A cloaking device we will have to call a meeting of the federation i mean let get to starbase 32 and do something

Posted by: spurwing plover at September 17, 2005 09:38 AM