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Harry Potter Tech at Work: 'Invisibility Cloak' Developed for Processing Chips

Nov 11, 2016 06:26 AM EST

Harry Potter is leaking into science. Researchers get inspiration from the fictional hero's invisibility cloak to create a cutting edge cloaking device for processing chips.

According to a report from the University of Utah, the university's electrical and computer engineering associate professor Rajesh Menon and his team have created an "invisibility cloak" in their efforts to make future computer chips smaller, faster and energy efficient.

The cloaking device is intended for microscopic photonic integrated devices, which is considered the building blocks of photonic computer chips that's meant to run on light instead of electric current. Photonic devices are currently used in high-end military equipment.

Menon, along with co-authors Bing Shen and Randy Polson, published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

These days, computers, mobile phones and other data centers run on silicon chips. However, the future will likely be in photonic chips, which is reportedly faster, consumes less power and gives off less heat.

Even with all the benefits, when two photonic devices are too near each other, the light leakage between the two will cause interference and will not work. To solve this problem, Menon and his colleagues developed a cloaking device

"The principle we are using is similar to that of the Harry Potter invisibility cloak," Menon said. "Any light that comes to one device is redirected back as if to mimic the situation of not having a neighboring device. It's like a barrier - it pushes the light back into the original device. It is being fooled into thinking there is nothing on the other side."

He also explained the benefits of the chip saying, "By going from electronics to photonics we can make computers much more efficient and ultimately make a big impact on carbon emissions and energy usage for all kinds of things," Menon says. "It's a big impact and a lot of people are trying to solve it." 

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