SEM image of a fabricated carpet cloak, the insets show the oblique view of the carpet cloak (top) and the cloak/reflector interface (bottom) (Image: Technical University of Denmark/Optics Express)
Efforts to create a working "invisibility cloak" have generally involved the use of artificial materials with a negative refractive index known as metamaterials. Another promising technique involves the use of a natural crystal called calcite that boasts an optical property known as birefringence, or double-refraction. While both methods have proven successful in rendering very small objects invisible in specific wavelengths of light by bending and channeling light around them, both techniques require the "cloak" to be orders of magnitude larger than the object being concealed. Researchers are now reporting progress in overcoming this size limitation using a technology known as a "carpet cloak."