Engineering Innovation Podcast and Radio Series

Invisible Objects

PostedJune 4, 2006

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Randy Atkins:  David Smith, a Duke University engineer, says it's theoretically possible to wrap objects in an invisibility cloak.

David Smith:  The math enables you to decide what the material properties of this cloak need to be.

Randy Atkins:  Smith says the calculations could have been done a century ago, but the engineering would have been thought impossible.

David Smith:  But now we realize that we actually have the tools to make this material using artificial structures…

Randy Atkins:  …like nano-scale loops of wire to create electromagnetic fields that precisely bend light around an object so that it appears unaltered on the other side.  So say…

David Smith:  …you had an oil refinery blocking your view of the bay, you could imagine placing a huge cloak around that, and then you'd have your clear view of the bay.

Randy Atkins:  With the National Academy of Engineering, Randy Atkins, WTOP Radio.

The technology may have a range of uses besides unobstructed views—from military camouflage to wireless communications.  To find out more about this story, go to and click on "Innovative Engineering" under "Quick Links" at the very bottom of the page.