Strategies to manipulate light and sound go back to the first spherical glass bead and the pounding of the first hollow log. But their full potential is only just becoming apparent, according to a review by materials scientists at Rice University and their colleagues.
New abilities to corral light and sound from the macroscale to the nanoscale with structured polymers could deliver profound changes in the way we live, said materials scientist Edwin "Ned" Thomas, the William and Stephanie Sick Dean of the George R. Brown School of Engineering at Rice. Such advanced materials could not only revolutionize computing and sensing technology but could also bring about new strategies for soundproofing buildings and cars, managing heat and cold and making submarines invisible to sonar, he said.
"And then there's the invisibility cloak, like in 'Harry Potter,'" Thomas said. "That's a special effect in the movie, but we're getting to the point where we can do it for real."