John Pendry obtained his Ph.D. in 1969 from Cambridge University, UK, where, apart from a year spent at AT&T Bell Laboratories, he remained until 1975. There followed six years at the Daresbury Laboratory as head of the theoretical group. Since 1981 he has worked at the Blackett Laboratory, Imperial College London, where he has served as Dean, Head of the Physics Department, and Principal for Physical Sciences. His research interests are broad, originally centering on condensed matter theory but now extending into optics. He has worked extensively on electronic and structural properties of surfaces, transport in disordered systems, and in the past ten years has developed the theory behind metamaterials, negative refraction, and cloaking.(Author photograph: Imperial College London/Mike Finn-Kelcey)
Thick layers of disordered materials, such as milk or snow, scatter light so that very little of it gets through. Theorists say that a properly designed combination of incident light waves would be almost completely transmitted and we now have experimental proof of this remarkable result.
Scientists and novelists have been intrigued for centuries by the possibility of hiding an object so completely that neither trace of the object nor of its cloak is to be found. Recent theoretical developments show that cloaking is, in principle, possible for electromagnetic waves and to a limited extent for other types of wave, such as acoustic waves. An energetic program of experimental research has shown some of the schemes to be realizable in practice.