TECH

This Material Can Make Any Object Invisible To Touch

25/06/2014 11:51 BST | Updated 25/06/2014 11:59 BST
KIT

Scientists have developed a new material which they claim is literally impossible to feel.

The new nano-material is actually described as a "crystalline material structured with sub-micrometer accuracy [which] consists of needle-shaped cones, whose tips meet".

The material is apparently able to direct the force of a touching finger as such that any object beneath it is impossible to feel.

Tiemo Bückmann, lead scientist on the team at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, said that the material can also fool a computer designed to recognise objects.

"It is like in Hans-Christian Andersen's fairy tale about the princess and the pea. The princess feels the pea in spite of the mattresses. When using our new material, however, one mattress would be sufficient for the princess to sleep well," he said.

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Only a thin layer of the material is needed to create the effect, the team says. That's down to the way the material can easily and uniformly spread the force from an object 'within' or below it so that a finger above can't get a sense of the shape.

For now there's no word on commercial applications - though the press release suggests that we watch this space.

"The mechanical invisibility cloak represents pure physical fundamental research, but might open up the door to interesting applications in a few years from now, as it allows for producing materials with freely selectable mechanical properties. Examples are very thin, light, and still comfortable camping mattresses or carpets hiding cables and pipelines below."