British scientists make microscopic objects invisible

By | July 7, 2006

British scientists make microscopic objects invisibleThis may be a good time to go back and listen to David Hudson’s tapes. During some very high-tech soil analysis, this simple cotton farmer tells of bizarre experiences had by leading specialists including weight changes and invisibility. Now to our most recent invisibility story…

It sounds like magic: walls, curtains, even dresses could be rendered transparent by bathing them in a specially crafted beam of light. Rescuers could use the beam to peer through rubble after an earthquake, while doctors could gaze at a damaged lung after making a patient’s skin and ribs vanish.?… At the flick of a switch, he and his colleague Dr Mark Frogley can make something invisible, albeit just a fraction of a millimetre square of a special material and only for a one ten thousandth of a millionth of a second. …an electron can be prevented from absorbing a particle of laser light and jumping to a higher energy level if a second laser beam is used to link or “couple” the two energy levels to a third one. …

Using two powerful beams made this way, the team performed its vanishing trick: the artificial atoms became transparent to one beam when a second – coupling – laser illuminated them at the same time. “By shining an invisible powerful laser onto these ‘artificial atoms’, we have learnt how to control the motion of the electrons so they no longer absorb light – when the laser is switched on, the crystals instantly become invisible, only to return to their normal opaque state when the laser is switched off.”

As Prof Phillips says, “we have proved the physics”. Although this was achieved with an idealised material, it suggests that by carefully designing a wand of laser light it may be possible to make anything transparent. “The effect has the potential to lead to all sorts of new applications. You can imagine a laser that works at frequencies we can’t see and, when it shines on your hand, it would open up a transparent hole.” – telegraph

Fun crazy stuff in our future!

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