T o the naked eye , th e small college town of Houghton, nestled in the heart of Michigan's western Upper Peninsula, seems like any other campus. Students traveling from class-to-class, others working diligently on homework.
B ut on the eighth floor of the Electrical Energy Resources Center at Michigan Tech University, scientists are trying to make an historic breakthrough.
F or the last four years , Associate P rofessor Elena Semouchkina and graduate student Xiaohui Wang have been bringing us one step closer to making objects and people invisible.
" We are developing several approaches to cloaking, not just one, at least four different approaches we are developing right here in the lab," Semouchkina explained. "This work it's so interesting to be doing some part of magic here."
J ust a decade ago the idea of cloaking was fanta s y , only seen in the movies like Harry Potter. But the cloak made in this lab is quite different than the one found at Hogwarts.
A small styrofoam ring with 200 tiny ceramic resonators buried inside.
" If you know you're expecting a wavelength of a certain frequency , you can be protected and basically create cloak over it today ," Semouchkina said.
T he wavelengths being used in this lab are microwaves and here's how the cloak works.
W hen the waves travel through space and hit the cloak , they are diverted around the resonators , making it virtually impossible for radars to detect the metal cylinder on the inside.
A nd while it still doesn't make the object invisible to the eye, this development is groundbreaking and scientists believe this is the first step to creating an optical illusion to make things invisible.
So what would Harry Potter think? Would this cloak work for him?
" If Harry Potter is put in a cylinder and if he's illuminated by a red light even better and infrared light you know night vision device then it's already actually possible ," Semouchkina said.
A nd while Harry Potter will never get to try on one of these cloaks, it may not be long until this technology finds itself at the center of everyday life.
" I think for the scientific world , because it has very wide potential application for example in law enforc e ment in security areas that's why we are interested in it ," Wang explained.
M ichigan Tech University is on the forefront of this cutting edge technology and have already received widespread national interest.
T hey have already been approached by various organizations to help develop new technology and have been featured in some of science's most prestigious publications.
" The interest is still on a high-level and it did not fade out and work is still ongoing and many groups," Semouchkina explained.
T he race will continue with other univer s ities around the country to see who can make this fantasy come alive first.