Two years ago, scientists claimed they were close to being able to create a material that could make the wearer invisible.

Pah - said we - this is just the stuff of children's fantasy, pointing to that oh so famous of wizards, Harry Potter, who cloaks himself in a magic garment to get out of all sorts of scrapes.

But, says scientists, they could be closer than ever to being able to produce a material that can bend light the wrong way - the first step toward an invisibility cloaking device.

Two separate teams have come up with two different materials.

The two teams were working separately under the direction of Xiang Zhang of the Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center at the University of California, Berkeley with US government funding.

One team reported its findings in the journal Science and the other in the journal Nature.

The first approach uses a type of fishnet of metal layers to reverse the direction of light, explains Reuters.

The second uses tiny silver wires.

Both teams have used metamaterials, which are artificially engineered structures that have properties not seen in nature, such as, in this case, a negative refractive index.

Each new material works to reverse light in limited wavelengths, but Jason Valentine, who worked on one of the projects, told Reuters, that the possibility of actually being able to hide objects is a little way off.

"We are not actually cloaking anything," Valentine said in a telephone interview. "I don't think we have to worry about invisible people walking around any time soon. To be honest, we are just at the beginning of doing anything like that.

"However, cloaking may be something that this material could be used for in the future," he added.

"You'd have to wrap whatever you wanted to cloak in the material. It would just send light around. By sending light around the object that is to be cloaked, you don't see it."