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If you spent your childhood wishing that the invisibility cloak from Harry Potter was a real object that could actually exist within your life, then you’re not alone. Using the garment to slip out of Hogwarts incognito to follow the spiders to the woods, sneak into the forbidden section of the library, or hide from the world as you collected Voldemort’s Horcruxes was something that seemed achievable only in dreams.

But scientists in the US have come up with technology that could potentially make an invisibility cloak — or something kind of similar — a very real thing. At 80 nanometres thick, the ‘invisible skin’ is able to interfere with the regular way that lightwaves work, essentially making 3D surfaces appear flat. Recent testing on a object 36 nanometers squared proved successful, making the microscopic material almost invisible.

“This is the first time a 3D object of arbitrary shape has been cloaked from visible light,” said Dr Xiang Zhang from the University of California, Berkeley. “If you want to cloak people, that is possible with this new work.”

So far the technology has only been tried out on microscopic surfaces, but there is potential for it to be applied to larger objects in the future. This new invention could be a game changer for sneaking into clubs, covering a bad hair day, or fighting “He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named” IRL.

Juliet Mentor

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