Research Article: 3D Visible‐Light Invisibility Cloak

Date Published: April 14, 2018

Publisher: John Wiley and Sons Inc.

Author(s): Bin Zheng, Rongrong Zhu, Liqiao Jing, Yihao Yang, Lian Shen, Huaping Wang, Zuojia Wang, Xianmin Zhang, Xu Liu, Erping Li, Hongsheng Chen.


The concept of an invisibility cloak is a fixture of science fiction, fantasy, and the collective imagination. However, a real device that can hide an object from sight in visible light from absolutely any viewpoint would be extremely challenging to build. The main obstacle to creating such a cloak is the coupling of the electromagnetic components of light, which would necessitate the use of complex materials with specific permittivity and permeability tensors. Previous cloaking solutions have involved circumventing this obstacle by functioning either in static (or quasistatic) fields where these electromagnetic components are uncoupled or in diffusive light scattering media where complex materials are not required. In this paper, concealing a large‐scale spherical object from human sight from three orthogonal directions is reported. This result is achieved by developing a 3D homogeneous polyhedral transformation and a spatially invariant refractive index discretization that considerably reduce the coupling of the electromagnetic components of visible light. This approach allows for a major simplification in the design of 3D invisibility cloaks, which can now be created at a large scale using homogeneous and isotropic materials.

Partial Text

Complex creatures, including humans, rely on their senses to obtain information about and react to their living environments. Visual illusions can affect the behavior of such creatures by deceiving their subjective judgment. Invisibility, one of the ultimate visual illusions, was almost inconceivable prior to the ingenious theory of transformation optics, which was first proposed in 2006.1, 2 Using transformation optics, a cloak could theoretically render an object invisible by guiding light around it as if nothing was there.

Here, we achieve a 3D cloak for visible light by performing a 3D polyhedral transformation and using an approach involving a spatially invariant refractive index discretization. Our experimental demonstration shows that this cloak, which is made of isotropic materials, can hide macroscopic objects in fully polarized visible light. In contrast with a previous 2D cloak for the visible‐light spectrum,16 our cloak is effective for different viewing angles in 3D space.

In conclusion, we propose a 3D cloaking device that can hide a macroscopic object from plain sight. Compared with 2D devices, our device offers an additional degree of freedom with respect to observation angles. Our work provides a new solution for hiding an object in 3D natural illumination for the entire spectrum of human eye sensitivity and will have practical applications in surveillance technology and for security‐ and defense‐related purposes.

The authors declare no conflict of interest.




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