Sir John Pendry, pioneer of the 'invisibility cloak', wins top Institute of Physics honour

The physicist first published the idea for an "invisibility cloak" in 2006

A British physicist who has pioneered the development of a new class of metamaterials and proposed the idea of an "invisibility cloak" has won the top honour at the UK's Institute of Physics (IoP) awards.

Professor Sir John Pendry, who first published the idea for an "invisibility cloak" in 2006, was honoured for his work on metamaterials and his "seminal contributions to surface science, disordered systems and photonics".

In a citation for the award the IoP commended Sir John Pendry's work on low energy diffraction and the theory of surfaces but said that it was his work on a "cloak of invisibility" that had "the greatest impact scientifically and certainly on the public imagination".

It goes on to state that the new class of materials "expand massively the material parameters available throughout the electromagnetic spectrum", and notes that the invention of the cloak has attracted worldwide public interest.

The properties of metamaterials, which are not defined by their chemical constitution but rather by their internal structure on the smallest scale, allow them to be used to guide light around objects - thus rendering them invisible to the eye.

The metamaterials can be designed specifically to induce a change in the direction of electromagnetic waves by altering the nano-scale structure of the metamaterial rather than its chemistry. Covering an object in such a material means light waves flow around the object.

Professor Pendry told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: “The point of the cloak was a grand challenge to tell the world 'if we can do that, we can do anything.'

“The whole point of the exercise is we have exquisite control over light and radiation generally.”

Researchers in Britain and the US have long been working on creating a so-called cloaking device.

The concept, a long-time staple of science fiction films, and more recently the Harry Potter series, is thought to have a wide number of applications - and could be used in military stealth technology.

Professor Pendry explained in 2006: "What you're trying to do is guide light around an object, but the art is to bend it such that it leaves the object in precisely the same way that it initially hits it.

"You have the illusion that there is nothing there."

Prof Sir Peter Knight, president of the IoP, told BBC News: "My personal view is that what John Pendry has done with his work on metamaterials, on perfect lensing, on cloaking - that work is the most exciting that I've seen in optics in a generation."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
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.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living