Exploring the Science of Invisibility
Professor Sir John Pendry, FRS, delivered the 41st annual Edwards Lecture - "Metamaterials & The Science of Invisibility" - on the 29th October in the Oliver Thompson Lecture Theatre.
His lecture addressed recently discovered metamaterials which have created extraordinary possibilities through their negative refractive index and lenses whose resolution is limited only by the precision with which they can be manufactured.
Professor Sir John Pendry, a condensed matter theorist who has worked at Imperial College London's Blackett Laboratory since 1981, gave fascinating insights into concealing an image 'behind a mirage' and bending light around an object. He showed an image of a statue of Peter Pan losing its shadow through the use a negative refractive index and noted the specific task needed to achieve the invisibility of the object:
"We are going to hide an object behind a mirage, bending light around the object, just like a road mirage. We do this by grading the index of refraction in a cloak so as to bend the light by exactly the right amount. Ordinary materials like glass are not adequate for this task and we have had to invent a new class of materials, metamaterials, whose properties can be tailored virtually at will."
The annual Edwards lecture, sponsored by the City of London livery company, the Worshipful Company of Scientific Instrument Makers (WCSIM) commemorates the work of F.D. Edwards, who was a staff member at City's predecessor institution, the Northampton Institute. He was also a past member of the WCSIM.
The evening also featured the ceremonial convening of the lecture by the WCSIM's Beadle, Tony Parker and a presentation of a souvenir medal to Professor Sir John Pendry, by Senior Warden, Christopher Sawyer.