03/30/19 -- Yamagato Industries Talks Invisibility Cloaks

March 30th, 2019

Cloaking technology has been a mainstay of science-fiction since its inception. We may remember it most fondly from the Romular war birds of Star Trek, or from a more fantastical point of view Harry Potter's invisibility cloak. While SLC-Expressive individuals have been able to bend light and create invisibility effects for years, science has struggled to catch up to the biological wizardry of our modern world. But if you ask Yamagato Industries, the wizarding world just got a lot closer.

At the Mechanical Components & Materials Expo held last month in Tokyo we were able to corner Yamagato Industries' Chief Technology Innovation Officer Rin Sato to ask her about rumors that Yamagato Industries is close to unveiling invisibility technology. When Rin offered us more than a polite "no comment" we weren't prepared for what would come next.

Rin confirmed that Yamagato Industries is actively researching spectral invisibility technology. Spectral invisibility cloaking renders objects unseen by shifting the frequencies of light that interact with an object.

To understand how this technology will work, you have to understand how light works. The electromagnetic spectrum consists of a vast range of frequencies. These include radiation that cannot be seen with the naked eye, such as X-rays and microwaves. On one part of the spectrum is a range of frequencies that humans can detect. This is visible light, which itself contains different frequencies that range from red at one end to violet at another.

Some sources of light, such as the sun, have multiple frequencies. These are called broadband sources. When a person sees an object, what he is actually seeing is the interplay between light and the object. For example, when one sees a red apple, what one is actually seeing is the apple reflecting the red light frequency of the sun. All other colors have passed through, which is why the person cannot see the other colors except for red.

According to Rin Sato, Yamagato Industries haa developed a prototype spectral cloaking technology, which harnesses the various frequencies of visible light.

Older technologies typically involve manipulating the way light interacts with an object by moving the light waves around the object instead of through it.

The different colors of the light would be made to travel around the object in different paths, reaching their destination at different times. The result would be some form of distortion so that the object is not actually fully invisible.

Other technologies do not produce the same distortions, but they are limited to laboratory settings where objects can become visible under only one color of light. Obviously, this would have limited usage in the world illuminated by a broadband light.

Yamagato Industries' innovation of this technology means that they can make an object invisible by manipulating the frequencies of light as the light wave passes through the object.

According to Sato, the device works by shifting one frequency of light to another as the light passes through the object. Once it has passed, the frequency is put back in its original state. This way, the light passes through the object but does not interact with it at all, making the object invisible to an observer.

For example, if one has a green mango, spectral cloaking would shift the green light frequency to another frequency as light passes through the mango. Once the light has passed, the green light frequency is shifted back in place, rendering the green mango invisible.

"We have made a target object fully invisible to observation under realistic broadband illumination by propagating the illumination wave through the object with no detectable distortion, exactly as if the object and cloak were not present," says Sato.

Yamagato Industries say spectral cloaking can be used for security purposes in the military and telecommunications industries. By using the technology to make fiber optic cables invisible, companies can keep snoops from looking at classified information often delivered as broadband signals through telecommunications lines.

While Yamagato Industries was not ready to show off their cloaking technology to the public yet, speculation is abound that they will have a device ready for public appearance by the 2019 World's Fair.

Until then, we'll keep a sharp eye out!

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