The novel material, called “Metaflex,” is composed of microscopic structures that form a “metamaterial” that has the ability to control and channel the flow of light on a fundamental level.

“Metamaterials give us the ultimate handle on manipulating the behavior of light,” said Andrea Di Falco of the University of St Andrews, the lead author of the paper.

This ability to manipulate light is what allows metamaterials to create the illusion of invisibility — a concept already applied to a number of fields including sonar-cloaking mechanisms for ships, submarines, and planes. Take the Stealth bomber for example, a plane that can be seen in visible light yet is difficult to detect with radar.