Invisibility and Time Cloaks

Effects on Time from Light Frequency Shifts

Researchers have successfully demonstrated a cloaking device that can hide an event that occurs at a specific point in time for 15 billionths of a second.

Alexander Gaeta, Moti Fridman, and colleagues at Cornell University used a device that can shift the frequency of light to create a rudimentary time cloak that funnels light around an object so it can’t be seen.

In order to do this, the scientists first shift the frequency of light higher and then, suddenly, lower. The modulated light goes through an optical fiber that makes some of the wavelengths of light speed up. As the faster wavelengths race ahead of the others, a gap opens in the beam. Once the light has passed the hidden event, the researchers reverse the process — speeding up the slow wavelengths and slowing the fast ones — in order to close the gap.

Though their results did not last very long, Gaeta and Fridman believe their experiment will be able to hide events lasting up to 110 billionths of a second and possibly even longer. While a versatile time cloak is still a long way from reality, this first step has been lauded in the scientific community as very promising.

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