Chinese scientists 'increasingly confident' about invisibility cloak after making a cat disappear

The new technology was unveiled in June as Chinese scientist continue to explore the wider possibilities of invisibility

Chinese scientists have been described as “increasingly confident” that they will develop the world’s first invisibility cloak, with the Chinese government funding at least 40 research teams, one of which recently made a cat “disappear".

The news is the latest in the informal race to develop a working ‘invisibility cloak’, although it seems that China's chosen animal for experimentation show they have certainly cracked the formula for grabbing the internet’s attention.

The work was first completed in June by Professor Chen Hongsheng from Zhejiang University, who demonstrated a hexagonal device that made a fish and a cat ‘invisible’ by bending light around the animals. The full scientific paper titled 'Natural Light Cloaking for Aquatic and Terrestrial Creatures' can be seen here.

The technology replicates the achievements of many other international teams working on ‘invisibility cloaks’, although the Chinese researchers claim that their device is made from much cheaper materials than their rivals', reports the South China Morning Post.

Although making a goldfish and a cat disappear seems to have more in common with a magic trick than serious science, the Chinese – and other governments –  continue to be entranced by the possibility of an invisibility cloak, a device that would have widespread commercial and military applications.

An anonymous researcher working at Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics told the Post that he had been contracted to develop “full invisibility” technology for hypersonic jets, saying: "We are invisible people studying invisible technology.”

"Full invisibility" most likely refers to making the aircraft invisibile to visible light, as various 'stealth' aircraft have been developed that are hard to detect using other portions of the electromagnetic spectrum (of which visible light is only a small portion). Like the Americans and the Russians, the Chinese have already developed stealth aircraft.

In terms of hiding from human eyesight, there are various appraoches to the problem of invisibility. Some favour relatively low-tech devices that bend light around an object using stiff materials, whilst others are looking into meta-materials: man-made substances that have physical properties unknown in nature.

Many scientists have said that a ‘Harry Potter’ style invisibility cloak is essentially impossible, although a recent development this year using electrically-powered metamaterials was acclaimed by its American inventors as allowing invisibility "at all angles and over broad bandwiths."

Despite the scepticism surrounding the technology the possibility of an invisibility cloak continues to have a powerful draw on our collective imagination. Professor Ma Yungui, another Chinese researcher involved in invisibility technology, told the Post that his government's funding for this “fundamental frontier” was “strong and increasing”: "I think we have about a 40 per cent chance of making the world's first invisibility cloak,” said Yungui.

Sport
Australia vs New Zealand live
cricket Follow over-by-over coverage as rivals New Zealand and Australia face off
Sport
Hamilton runs down the back straight in the rain
F1
News
Zayn has become the first member to leave One Direction. 'I have to do what feels right in my heart,' he said
peopleWe wince at anguish of fans, but his 1D departure shows the perils of fame in the social media age
Life and Style
Researchers found that just 10 one-minute swill-and-spit sessions are enough to soften tooth enamel and make teeth vulnerable to erosion
health
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
The Regent Street Cinema’s projection room in the 1920s
film
News
Leah Devine is only the ninth female to have made the Young Magician of the Year final since the contest began more than 50 years
peopleMeet the 16-year-old who has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year
News
Jonathan Anderson was born in Northern Ireland but now based between London, where he presents a line named JW Anderson
peopleBritish designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
News
Andy Davidhazy at the beginning (left) and end (right) of his hike
video
News
Taylor Swift is applying to trademark song lyrics from 1989
people
Voices
The popularity of TV shows such as The Liver Birds encouraged Liverpudlians to exaggerate their Scouse accent
voicesWe exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

    £6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

    Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

    Recruitment Genius: IT Infrastructure Engineer

    £30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is looking to find a...

    Recruitment Genius: IT Engineer

    £21000 - £23600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join...

    Day In a Page

    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
    Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
    Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

    The only direction Zayn could go

    We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
    Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

    Spells like teen spirit

    A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
    Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
    Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

    Licence to offend in the land of the free

    Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
    From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

    From farm to fork in Cornwall

    One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
    Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

    Robert Parker interview

    The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
    How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

    How to make your own Easter egg

    Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

    Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

    Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
    Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

    Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

    The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

    Cricket World Cup 2015

    Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
    The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing