Researchers theorized how to design a table-top black hole earlier this year. Now two ambitious Chinese scientists have actually built one—using the same materials that made invisibility cloaks possible.
The theoretical model for the black hole aped the properties of a cosmological black hole, whose intense gravity bends the surrounding space-time, causing any nearby matter or radiation to follow the warped space-time and spiral inwards.
The working Chinese model consists of a cylinder, made up of strips of a special material that increasingly affects electric fields. As rays of light approach the device, they curve inward towards its center, where the permittivity (a characteristic that describes how the material affects an electric field) is such that the light cannot escape. The device then converts the light into heat energy.
To affect light in such a way, the black hole uses so-called meta-materials that "bend light" to mimic the properties of a cosmological black hole. Meta-materials can deflect microwaves around a three-dimensional object, essentially making it invisible to the waves. Researchers themselves made waves by proposing that such materials may lead to the creation of an invisibility cloak.
For more on this innnovation, visit New Scientist.