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Can you feel the heat? To a thermal camera, which measures infrared radiation, the heat that we can feel is visible, like the heat of a traveler in an airport with a fever or the cold of a leaky window or door in the winter. Researchers report a theoretical way of mimicking thermal objects or making objects invisible to thermal measurements.

In a paper published in Proceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences, an international group of applied mathematicians and physicists, including Fernando Guevara Vasquez and Trent DeGiovanni from the University of Utah, report a theoretical way of mimicking thermal objects or making objects invisible to thermal measurements. And it doesn't require a Romulan cloaking device or Harry Potter's invisibility cloak. The research is funded by the National Science Foundation.

The method allows for fine-tuning of heat transfer even in situations where the temperature changes in time, the researchers say. One application could be to isolate a part that generates heat in a circuit (say, a power supply) to keep it from interfering with heat sensitive parts (say, a thermal camera). Another application could be in industrial processes that require accurate temperature control in both time and space, for example controlling the cooling of a material so that it crystallizes in a particular manner.

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