It designs new metamaterials far faster than humans can.

Marauder's Map

Invisibility cloaks have been a staple of science fiction for decades. And now, researchers think they may be one step closer to bringing the bizarre garments into the real world — all thanks to artificial intelligence.

The specifics vary, but the general idea behind an invisibility cloak is that it gives the wearer the ability to move through the world undetected. As far as we know, nothing that currently exists in nature can do this, so the first step to creating an invisibility cloak is engineering a material that can.

So Metamaterial

These materials with unnatural properties are called metamaterials, and developing them is an incredibly time-consuming process. Scientists first have to design artificial atoms — a term for certain types of nanomaterials with incredibly specific structural parameters — and then subject their creations to a thorough trial and error process.

But now, a team of South Korean researchers has developed an AI capable of designing new metamaterials with specific optical properties, which they detail in the July 10 issue of the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces.

Because this AI can work far faster than humans can, the scientists believe it could dramatically speed up the metamaterial development process — and perhaps even lead to the discovery of a metamaterial that can make its wearer invisible.

READ MORE: Artificial intelligence (AI) designs metamaterials used in the invisibility cloak [EurekAlert]

More on invisibility cloaks: The US Secretly Funded Research on UFOs, Wormholes, and Warp Drives

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