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Japanese researchers invent completely transparent material

Evan Blass

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In a breakthrough that could benefit fields as diverse as networking, photography, astronomy, and peeping, science-types at Japan's Institute of Physical and Chemical Research have unveiled their prototype of a glass-like material that they claim to be 100% transparent. Unlike normal glass, which reflects some of the incoming light, the new so-called metamaterial --composed of a grid of gold or silver nanocoils embedded in a prism-shaped, glass-like material -- uses its unique structural properties to achieve a negative refractive index, or complete transparency. Although currently just a one-off proof-of-concept (pictured, under an electron microscope), mass-produced versions of the new material could improve fiber optic communications, contribute to better telescopes and cameras, or lead to the development of completely new optical equipment.

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