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Every now and then a story comes around that so-and-so scientist has developed a real invisibility cloak, and fantasy fans run out to update their Awesome Harry Potter Magic Things That Now Exist list (most recent addiction: the golden snitch.) But for all the disparate ongoing attempts to perfect stealth technology, it's still not possible to fully cloak an object from the naked eye.

Part of the problem, up until recently, has simply been a matter of scale. Scientists have known for years that metamaterials made from synthetic textiles can be used to to control the propagation of light. The artificial material bends light around an object, rendering it invisible to certain wavelengths. But, they could only fabricate the stuff in microscopic sizes.

Now, a team of researchers at the University of Central Florida, led by Debashis Chanda, have perfected a nanotransfer printing technique that makes it possible to create larger swaths of the metamaterial—about four by four inch squares. From there, multiple pieces can be stitched together with an automated tool to create a very large area of coverage, Chanda explained in an email.

It means the technology could finally have real-life, practical applications, he said. “Such large-area fabrication of metamaterials following a simple printing technique will enable realization of novel devices based on engineered optical responses at the nanoscale."

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