Next stop, invisibility? Math gurus devise way to hide amplified light, sound waves

An international research group that includes a University of Washington mathematician believes it has figured out how to amplify light, sound and matter waves while simultaneously preventing them from being detected inside an invisible container, according to research to be published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

It’s part of a longstanding effort by the group to develop new technologies and applications for invisibility.

“You can isolate and magnify what you want to see, and make the rest invisible,” says the professor, Gunther Uhlmann, in this UW article explaining the research. “You can amplify the waves tremendously. And although the wave has been magnified a lot, you still cannot see what is happening inside the container.”

They call it “Schrödinger’s hat,” a reference to Schrödinger’s cat from quantum mechanics. The diagram above depicts a matter wave hitting a Schrödinger’s hat. Inside the container, the wave is magnified, but it isn’t apparent from the outside.

The group’s past work includes development of mathematics for cloaks that use metamaterials to bend waves and create an illusion of invisibility. They’ve also figured out a way to make waves disappear in one place and reappear somewhere else.

Uhlmann says the group hopes to find collaborators to develop a prototype of the latest findings, now that the research paper has been published.

Much more in this UW article by Hannah Hickey.