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DIGITAL AGENDA : EUROPEAN RESEARCHERS DISCOVER INVISIBILITY'.

Rendering an object invisible is no longer fiction but a reality, the European Commission announced, on 23 November. Scientists of the PHOME project have designed and created photonic meta-materials', which influence the behaviour of light rays, enabling the visibility of objects to be masked.

"I am amazed by the ingenuity of European researchers," said Digital Agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes. "This project has achieved in real life what we knew only from special effects in the cinema. Such cutting-edge research is crucial to laying the foundations for new technologies essential for Europe's competitiveness."

Resulting from the work of German, Greek, Turkish and British nanotechnology researchers, the impressive breakthrough is based on the principle of transformation optics, which was pioneered by the team. The researchers discovered that photonic meta-materials, made up of very small rods just a few hundred nanometres across that are arranged into a structure resembling a woodpile, could be carefully arranged so that they are able to partially bend light waves. According to the Commission, in modifying the speed and direction of light, researchers are able to guide the waves around a micrometre-sized bump in such a way as to render it invisible in three dimensions, and at wavelengths of light close to those visible to humans. Work is under way to extend the effect into the visible range and the results are expected in January 2011.

Research work on the PHOME project began in April 2008 and will end in 2011. The total cost of the project is 1.88 million, of which the Commission is contributing 1.43 million under the ICT research budget of the Seventh Framework Programme for research and development 2007-2013.

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Publication:European Report
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:4E
Date:Nov 24, 2010
Words:277
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