Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Not Just Science Fiction: 'Electromagnetic Wormhole' Possible, Say Mathematicians

Date:
October 13, 2007
Source:
University of Rochester
Summary:
The team of mathematicians that first created the mathematics behind the 'invisibility cloak' has now shown that the same technology could be used to generate an 'electromagnetic wormhole.'

Light flowing around the metamaterial "tunnel"
Credit: Image courtesy of University of Rochester

The team of mathematicians that first created the mathematics behind the "invisibility cloak" announced by physicists last October has now shown that the same technology could be used to generate an "electromagnetic wormhole."

In the study, which is to appear in the Oct. 12 issue of Physical Review Letters, Allan Greenleaf, professor of mathematics at the University of Rochester, and his coauthors lay out a variation on the theme of cloaking. Their results open the possibility of building a sort of invisible tunnel between two points in space.

"Imagine wrapping Harry Potter's invisibility cloak around a tube," says Greenleaf. "If the material is designed according to our specifications, you could pass an object into one end, watch it disappear as it traveled the length of the tunnel, and then see it reappear out the other end."

Current technology can create objects invisible only to microwave radiation, but the mathematical theory allows for the wormhole effect for electromagnetic waves of all frequencies. With this in mind, Greenleaf and his coauthors propose several possible applications. Endoscopic surgeries where the surgeon is guided by MRI imaging are problematical because the intense magnetic fields generated by the MRI scanner affect the surgeon's tools, and the tools can distort the MRI images. Greenleaf says, however, that passing the tools through an EM wormhole could effectively hide them from the fields, allowing only their tips to be "visible" at work.

To create cloaking technology, Greenleaf and his collaborators use theoretical mathematics to design a device to guide the electromagnetic waves in a useful way. Researchers could then use these blueprints to create layers of specially engineered, light-bending, composite materials called metamaterials.

Last year, David R. Smith, professor of electrical and computer engineering at Duke's Pratt School, and his coauthors engineered an invisibility device as a disk, which allowed microwaves to pass around it. Greenleaf and his coauthors have now employed more elaborate geometry to specify exactly what properties are demanded of a wormhole's metamaterial in order to create the "invisible tunnel" effect. They also calculated what additional optical effects would occur if the inside of the wormhole was coated with a variety of hypothetical metamaterials.

Assuming that your vision was limited to the few frequencies at which the wormhole operates, looking in one end, you'd see a distorted view out the other end, according the simulations by Greenleaf and his coauthors. Depending on the length of the tube and how often the light bounced around inside, you might see just a fisheye view out the other end, or you might see an Escher-like jumble.

Greenleaf and his coauthors speculated on one use of the electromagnetic wormhole that sounds like something out of science fiction. If the metamaterials making up the tube were able to bend all wavelengths of visible light, they could be used to make a 3D television display. Imagine thousands of thin wormholes sticking up out of a box like a tuft of long grass in a vase. The wormholes themselves would be invisible, but their ends could transmit light carried up from below. It would be as if thousands of pixels were simply floating in the air.

But that idea, Greenleaf concedes, is a very long way off. Even though the mathematics now says that it's possible, it's up to engineers to apply these results to create a working prototype.

Greenleaf's coauthors are Matti Lassas, professor of mathematics at the Helsinki University of Technology; Yaroslav Kurylev, professor of mathematics at the University College, London; and Gunther Uhlmann, Walker Family Endowed Professor of Mathematics at the University of Washington.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Rochester. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Rochester. "Not Just Science Fiction: 'Electromagnetic Wormhole' Possible, Say Mathematicians." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 October 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071012160144.htm>.
University of Rochester. (2007, October 13). Not Just Science Fiction: 'Electromagnetic Wormhole' Possible, Say Mathematicians. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071012160144.htm
University of Rochester. "Not Just Science Fiction: 'Electromagnetic Wormhole' Possible, Say Mathematicians." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071012160144.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Space & Time News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Supply Ship Takes Off for International Space Station

Supply Ship Takes Off for International Space Station

AFP (July 30, 2014) — The European Space Agency's fifth Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV-5) is takes off to the International Space Station on an Ariane 5 rocket from French Guiana. Duration: 00:34 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship

Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship

AP (July 30, 2014) — Arianespace launched a rocket Tuesday from French Guiana carrying a robotic cargo ship to deliver provisions to the International Space Station. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast

In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast

AP (July 30, 2014) — Every summer, tourists make the pilgrimage to Chincoteague Island, Va. to see wild ponies cross the Assateague Channel. But, it's the rockets sending to supplies to the International Space Station that are making this a year-round destination. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Russia Saves Gecko Sex Satellite, Media Has Some Fun With It

Russia Saves Gecko Sex Satellite, Media Has Some Fun With It

Newsy (July 27, 2014) — The satellite is back under ground control after a tense few days, but with a gecko sex experiment on board, the media just couldn't help themselves. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:  

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile iPhone Android Web
      Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins