New “Invisibility Cloak” Keeps Objects From Being Felt

Posted by on July 2, 2014 in Sci-Tech, Science, Technology with 1 Comment

 | Gizmag | July 2nd 2014

It's now possible to hide an object from being felt, thanks to research by scientists at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (Photo: T Bückmann / KIT)

It's now possible to hide an object from being felt, thanks to research by scientists at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (Photo: T Bückmann / KIT)

Scientists at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology have developed a method of concealing objects from the sensation of touch that would finally meet the exacting standards of Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale princess, who felt a single pea prodding her beneath 20 mattresses and 20 feather beds.

The research team's method relies on a metamaterial – a material that exhibits properties not usually found in natural materials – that consists of a three-dimensional polymer microstructure formed by needle-shaped cones. This metamaterial structure is built around the object to be hidden, with its mechanical properties dictated by those of the object.


Cloaking requires that an object be isolated from, and made to externally appear just like, its surroundings for all conditions. In optics, this feat is accomplished with help from an opaque metal wall, and in heat conduction by a thermally insulating wall. To make an “unfeelability cloak,” you need a rigid wall around which a structure can be wrapped to make the interior feel identical to the surrounding.

The researchers placed a hard cylinder beneath the spring-like elastic metamaterial and found it to be undetectable to the touch of a finger or through tactile pressure with a measurement instrument. It was, to all intents and purposes, “invisible,” as was anything placed inside the hollow interior.

The cloaking material consists of many needle-shaped cones connected end-to-end that are p...

This is distinct from, say, cotton or light foam placed atop the cylinder in that those materials would make it more difficult to touch the underlying hard material without negating the feeling that it's nonetheless there.

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  1. swhite44@hotmail.com' swhite44 says:

    Good fro smuggling!

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