It’s not uncommon for science fiction to foreshadow science fact. Samsung even claimed that the tablet video device shown in 2001: A Space Odyssey was prior art that barred the patentability of the iPad.
Invisibility, in particular, has long been the stuff of fantasy and fiction – from H.G. Wells’ The Invisible Man, to Star Trek’s Romulan Cloaking Device, to Harry Potter’s Cloak of Invisibility.
Now an inventor says he’s been awarded the first actual patent for a cloaking device.
Fractal Antenna Systems has announced the granting of U.S. Patent No. 8,253,639 for a “Wideband electromagnetic cloaking systems.”
According to the abstract, the patent is for:
Arrangement of resonators in an a periodic configurations are described, which can be used for electromagnetic cloaking of objects. The overall assembly of resonators, as structures, do not all repeat periodically and at least some of the resonators are spaced such that their phase centers are separated by more than a wavelength. The arrangements can include resonators of several different sizes and/or geometries arranged so that each size or geometry corresponds to a moderate or high “Q” response that resonates within a specific frequency range, and that arrangement within that specific grouping of akin elements is periodic in the overall structure. The relative spacing and arrangement of groupings can be defined by self similarity and origin symmetry.
For the moment, the invention only works with certain wavelengths and frequencies. For example, it can make microwave towers “invisible” to each other (but not, alas, to the public) so that their signals don’t interfere with each other.
The invention doesn’t yet work with the visible light spectrum – but the inventor says that may be only about two years away. Infrared cloaking may be viable within months.
Bonus picture: a cloaked Romulan Bird-of-Prey starship: