Good news for aspiring Klingons, Romulans, and Predators out there, looking to make your Comicon outfits that much more authentic: It appears that, after long years of research, a fully operational cloaking device has finally been demonstrated!
I would hesitate to bust out the sewing machine right now though — the cloak has been proven successful only under some very particular conditions. Nathan Landy and David R. Smith have published an account of their work in Nature Materials, where they “design and experimentally characterize a two-dimensional, unidirectional cloak that makes no approximations to the underlying transformation optics formulation, yet is capable of reducing the scattering of an object ten wavelengths in size.”
In more straightforward terms, their cloaking device succeeds in fully masking a 7.5 cm diameter cylinder with a diamond shaped cloaking field — with none of the reflections that would tip off observers to the presence of a cloaked object (see: Predator’s “telltale shimmer”), that have, until this point, plagued all real-world demonstrations of this technology. So far, the invisibility registers only to microwaves, but since that part of the spectrum sees a lot of use in telecommunications and radar, the researchers see their development as a solid basis for expansion of the concept.
This demonstration comes after the groundbreaking development of metamaterials in 2006. (Metamaterials are, in short, engineered from conventional materials on a microscopic level, but assembled in such a way as to have properties not found in nature.) The metamaterials breakthrough cleared the path for the creation of the field of transformation optics, and ultimately, the cloaking device. So, as long as you’re a small cylinder viewed from one angle (and not a Bird of Prey made out of cardboard boxes, wandering around a convention centre) you’re officially covered!