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In one University of Illinois lab, invisibility is a matter of now you hear it, now you don't. Led by mechanical science and engineering professor Nicholas Fang, Illinois researchers have demonstrated an acoustic cloak, a technology that renders underwater objects invisible to sonar and other ultrasound waves.
"We are not talking about science fiction. We are talking about controlling sound waves by bending and twisting them in a designer space," said Fang, who also is affiliated with the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology. "This is certainly not some trick Harry Potter is playing with."
While materials that can wrap sound around an object rather than reflecting or absorbing it have been theoretically possible for a few years, realization of the concept has been a challenge. In a paper accepted for publication in the journal Physical Review Letters, Fang's team describe their working prototype, capable of hiding an object from a broad range of sound waves.