Light-bending material could be used to create an invisibility cloak

Researchers from Northwestern University in Illinois have developed a first-of-its-kind technique for creating entirely new classes of optical materials and devices that could lead to light bending and cloaking devices.

Using DNA as a key tool, the team took gold nanoparticles and arranged them in two and three dimensions to form optically active superlattices. According to the researchers, structures with specific configurations can be programmed through choice of particle type and both DNA-pattern and sequence to exhibit almost any colour across the visible spectrum.

“Architecture is everything when designing new materials, and we now have a new way to precisely control particle architectures over large areas,” said Northwestern’s Professor Chad Mirkin. “Chemists and physicists will be able to build an almost infinite number of new structures with all sorts of interesting properties. These structures cannot be made by any known technique.”

The technique combines top-down lithography with programmable self-assembly driven by DNA to achieve individual particle control in three dimensions. This technique can be used to build metamaterials for a range of applications including sensors for medical and environmental uses and possibly even invisibility cloaks.

Tom Austin-Morgan

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