Just like a scene straight from a science fiction flick, a team of physicists in Spain have developed a functional wormhole that is capable of tunneling magnetic fields through space.
Researcher Jordi Prat-Camps and his colleagues at the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB) created a device that can transmit magnetic fields from one point to another through a magnetically invisible path in space.
Prat explained that from the point of view of magnetics, this breakthrough device allows the field to be transferred through what appear to be a special dimension similar to a wormhole.
The Einstein-Rosen Bridges
The concept of wormholes was first posited by the famous German theoretical physicist Albert Einstein in his theories. Together with his colleague, Nathan Rosen, Einstein theorized that his theory of relativity made it possible for bridges to exist that could connect two varying point in time and space.
In this model, the bridges (wormholes) that the two scientists mentioned could facilitate the instantaneous transfer of objects through a tunnel at great distances. However, there are currently no evidence of wormholes that could transmit objects through time and space ever found by researchers.
While the recently-developed wormhole by the UAB scientists does not function to transmit objects through time and space, it is a realization instead of the invisibility cloak concept, which was first suggested in the Physical Review Letters in 2007.
Prat said this specific type of wormhole is capable of hiding electromagnetic waves. For this concept to work for light, however, it requires materials that are considered to be too difficult and impractical to use.
The researchers discovered that the materials needed to produce the magnetic wormhole are already available and quite easy to come by.
One of these materials was a superconductor that can store high charged particles and expel lines of magnetic fields from its interior in order to distort or bend them. This makes it possible for the magnetic field to perform a different function from its three-dimensional environment, allowing for the magnetic field disturbance to be concealed.
Magnetic Wormhole Device
Prat and his colleagues developed a three-layer object made of two concentric spheres with a spiral-cylinder interior. This inner layer allowed for the magnetic field to be essentially transmitted from one point to another, while the two remaining layers concealed the existence of the field.
The interior cylinder was produced using ferromagnetic mu-metal. Material made of ferromagnets demonstrates the strongest magnetic form, while mu-metals are extremely permeable and are commonly used to protect electronic devices.
The cylinder was also lined with a shell made of yttrium barium copper oxide, which is a superconducting material that can function even at high temperatures. This shell allowed the magnetic field to bend as it was being transmitted through the interior of the device.
The final shell of the device was constructed using 150 pieces of mu-metals that allowed the magnetic field's bending to be canceled out.
The researchers then placed the entire wormhole device in a solution of liquid nitrogen as high-temperature superconductors need the cooling of liquid nitrogen to function.
Lines of magnetic fields often radiate out from a location and deteriorate over time, but the magnetic field itself should still be detectable from different points around. The resulting magnetic wormhole in the experiment, however, is capable of invisibly transferring the magnetic field from one point of the cylinder to another, allowing it to appear on the exit of the tube seemingly out of nowhere.
Prat pointed out that while there is no way to be certain if other magnetic wormholes exist in space, the newly-developed technology could be used for practical applications on Earth.
The magnetic wormhole device could help improve the design of machines for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) by allowing it to capture images of the body while keeping its strong magnet away from the patient. This could remove the claustrophobic effect of having to enter the enclosed central tube of the machine during diagnostic imaging.
The findings of the Autonomous University of Barcelona study are featured in the journal Scientific Reports.