26/01/2012 10:35 GMT | Updated 26/03/2012 10:12 BST

Invisibility Cloak Comes To Life

Scientists have created a Harry-Potter-style invisibility cloak for a 3D object for the first time.

An 18cm dielectric cylinder was cloaked by scattering microwaves around it.

Scientists at The University of Texas at Austin made the discovery by scattering microwave radiation over a cylinder that measured just two wavelengths long, a process known as "plasmonic cloaking."

For the first time, the 3D object became invisible up close, far away, and from all angles.

The new discovery of "realistic and robust plasmonic metamaterial cloaks" is expected to be applied first to optical microscopes, quantum optics and lasers.

The invisibility cloak won't extend to a portable fashion piece however. The experiment only worked in the microwave spectrum, rather than for visible light.

The paper explains that research into invisibility cloaks has been going on long before Harry Potter. A whole decade's worth of research has gone into the field to achieve electromagnetic cloaking.

Other cloaking techniques are based on 'carpet cloaking', which according to the paper only hides bumps on mirrors and reflectors.

In 2011, an Invisible Tank developed by BAE Systems was displayed at the London Weapons Show.

Read the full paper 'Experimental verification of three-dimensional plasmonic cloaking in free-space' in the New Journal of Physics.