Jensen Li and John Pendry of Imperial College London have come up with a theory for how to create a carpet that would cause anything swept under it to seem to disappear.
This is a different approach to the approximate invisibility work.
Regular silica and silicon can be used to make such a carpet.
According to them, the carpet would work across the spectrum of visible light, something no other cloaking scheme has yet been able to achieve. Most modern schemes are based on "metamaterials", materials possessing carefully crafted internal structures that can alter the path of light. Pendry says that his idea, though seems complex, is actually fairly simple.
The researcher says that the material can bend light by different amounts at different points, much as a heated column of air can cause the horizon to shimmer.
"It's basically just an attempt to make a controlled mirage," Nature magazine quoted him as saying.
The researchers said that a carpet based on their idea would actually look highly reflective, much like a mirror. That would make the carpet, as well as anyone hiding under it, pretty conspicuous unless it was laid down on a mirrored surface.
"(Even then) You wouldn't want to use it to hide people or anything really big," Pendry said. Scientists, however, believe that the carpet would be an "important step toward making the dream of invisibility true", and would probably lead to some useful technologies.
Previous paper on the topic of metamaterials by Jensen Li, J. B. Pendry, Non-local effective medium of metamaterial
Metamaterials on John Pendry's site
Other news from the Imperial College of London