Enter the maze

An invisibility cloak for a solar panel

by Paul Curzon, Queen Mary University of London

Solar Panel

Invisibility cloaks are the stuff of science fiction. They are also fact, at least on a small scale. Scientists in Germany have created an invisibility cloak for solar panels! Solar panels are a green way to make electricity from sunlight. The cloak allows the panels to generate more electricity.

We see things because light bounces from them into our eyes. One way to make an invisibility cloak is to create a material that bounces light round an object so you see light from behind it instead of seeing it. SO far they have only been made to work for very small things.

One of the problems for solar panels is that they need to be attached to contacts to take the electricity away. Metal strips are used to do this, but they block some of the sunlight getting to the solar panel to make the electricity in the first place. The invisibility cloak on the metal strips bends sunlight round them so it all gets to the solar panel and less energy is wasted.

Harry Potter may use a cloak to hide in the stories, but in the real world there are better things to do with one. They can help save the planet.