Though it seems like something straight from a Harry Potter movie, scientists now believe printing your own invisible cloak from a 3D printer may soon be a reality.
An assistant research professor in electrical and computer engineering, Yaroslav Urzhumov, said "anyone who can spend a couple thousand dollars on a non-industry grade 3D printer can literally make a plastic cloak overnight."
But it's not the cloak that has some worried, it is what the cloak may be able to do.
Urzhumov and his team recently produced a polymer plastic disk that was capable of deflecting microwave beams. He said he is confident that in the "not-so-distant future," they will be able to create an invisible cloak able to ward off higher wavelengths, like visible light.
"We believe this approach is a way towards optical cloaking, including visible and infrared," he said. "And nanotechnology is available to make these cloaks from transparent polymers or glass. The properties of transparent polymers and glasses are not that different from what we have in our polymer at microwave frequencies."
Urzhumov said the 3D printer design "eliminates the 'shadow'" that would be cast and makes it easier for something to be invisible.
"In effect, the bright, highly reflective object, like a metal cylinder, is made invisible. The microwaves are carefully guided by a thin dielectric shell and then re-radiated back into free space on the shadow side of the cloak," he said.
He believes that anyone who has access to a 3D printer will be able to create a cloak at home.