Industry Insights

Nanotechnology and The Invisible Man

Wednesday, March 7, 2018 | by Rudy Montgelas



Wouldn’t it be interesting if you could become invisible? 1…Hmmm…

What would that mean?  Would we all have to walk around with infrared goggles on to see each other?  Nanotechnology might get us there in the near future. 

This issue of CTD explores Nanotechnology, and the world of the very, very small, even smaller than the period at the end of this sentence…

It also looks at how designed objects, of microscopic size, can significantly impact and shape our lives.
Nanotechnology utilizes newly developed materials, and materials processing, to create microscopic components, devices, systems and other ultra-small objects that can interact with our world and affect it in many ways. 

For instance, Carbon-based Graphene nano-material has shown to be a material with the highest strength of any material known to man.3

“Rolling-up” those allotropes of carbon, like a carpet or into a ball, allows the creation of carbon nanotubes or fullerenes, which have some interesting physical and electrical properties for many scientific and technical fields.4

Buckminsterfullerene, or “Buckeyball”, for instance, has hexagonally structured carbon atoms that are arranged in a “soccerball-like” configuration.6
Not only are new nano-materials under research, but also tiny electronic devices such as sensors and optical nano-devices have also been developed using nanotechnology such as Texas Instruments’ DLP, digital light processing chip.7

Did you know that nanotechnology research is underway-into new materials that could possibly be used for Visible Light Communications (VLC).  VLC is of interest for wireless communication networks in buildings, residential and industrial spaces.  In fact, the IEEE standards group recently announced the formation of the new 802.11 Light Communications Study Group to “create a global wireless local area network light communications standard”.8 New perovskite nanocrystals are under research - these could possibly be the best candidate as the high-speed light source for this application.9

But now, back to The Invisible Man.  I am intrigued at the thought that a cloaking devicecould possibly be created by covering an object in a specially developed nano-material, or Metamaterial, that actually directs visible light around objects.10  Right now, scientists have only reported to have been able to cloak objects in the microwave spectrum.  Or, have they?11  Have invisible aircraft and terrain vehicles already been developed?12  Hmmm… What do you think?


If you’re not invisible by then, we’re looking forward to seeing you next time for another CTD.

References and further reading:

1 Photo of the cover of “The Invisible Man”, by H. G. Wells, was originally serialized in Pearson's Weekly in 1897, and it was published as a novel the same year.
2,3  References and photo From “Wikimedia Commons”, the free media repository
4 Photo from Stamford University.  (There are a ton of these photos on line)
5 Photo from Benjah-bmm27 - Own work, Public Domain:
6 From:
7 From IEEE Spectrum “Chip Hall of Fame: Texas Instruments Digital Micromirror Device”
8 “IEEE announces formation of 802.11 Light Communications Study Group", Cabling Installation and Maitenance Magazine, November 30, 2017
9 “Perovskite nanocrystals provide simultaneous illumination and data communication” Posted by Gail Overton, Senior Editor, Laser Focus World, Copyright © 2007-2016. PennWell Corporation, Tulsa, OK.
10 Leonhardt, U. Notes on conformal invisibility devices. New J. Phys. 8, 118 (2006), and “Optical Cloaking with Metamaterials”, Wenshan Cai, Uday K. Chettiar, Alexander V. Kildishev & Vladimir M. Shalaev
11 “Engineering Discovery Brings Invisibility Closer to Sci-Fact” From the University of Arizona,
12 Photo from New Atlas “Metamaterials breakthrough could lead to the first wide-spectrum optical invisibility cloak”, June 12, 2013