A new printing method makes it possible to produce large sheets of metamaterials, a new class of materials designed to interact with light in ways no natural materials can. For several years, researchers working on these materials have promised invisibility cloaks, ultrahigh-resolution "superlenses," and other exotic optical devices straight from the pages of science fiction. But the materials were confined to small lab demonstrations because there was no way to make them in large enough quantities to demonstrate a practical device.
"Everyone has, perhaps conveniently, been in the position of not being able to make enough [metamaterial] to do anything with it," says John Rogers, a professor of materials science and engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, who developed the new printing method. Metamaterials that interact with visible light have previously not been made in pieces larger than hundreds of micrometers.
Much respect, we're now even closer to fulfilling our childhood fantasies.
All we need now are X-Ray specs.