MANHASSET, NY -- A team of French researchers have found a way of isolating or cloaking objects from sources of heat by diffusing the heat around the objects.
The “thermal cloaking” method taps into some of the same principles as optical cloaking and may lead to novel ways to control heat in electronics.
Recent advances in invisibility cloaks are based on the physics of transformation optics, which involves metamaterials and bending light so that it propagates around a space rather than through it. The French researchers investigated whether a similar approach might be possible for thermal diffusion.
“Our key goal with this research was to control the way heat diffuses in a manner similar to those that have already been achieved for waves, such as light waves or sound waves, by using the tools of transformation optics,” said researcher Guenneau Sebastien.
Guenneau is affiliated with both the University of Aix-Marseille and France’s Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CRNS).
The researchers applied the mathematics of transformation optics to equations for thermal diffusion to create their thermal invisibility cloak. They altered the geometry of isotherms to make them go around rather than through a circular region so that any object placed in this region can be shielded from the flow of heat.
“We can design a cloak so that heat diffuses around an invisibility region, which is then protected from heat. Or we can force heat to concentrate in a small volume, which will then heat up very rapidly,” Guenneau said.
Guenneau and colleagues said they are developing prototypes of their thermal cloaks for microelectronics, which they expect to have ready within the next few months.
The original research paper was first reported in the journal Optics Express.