Those who like their bars and restaurants peacefully phone-free will welcome a development from Japan.
Engineers led by Hideo Oka at Iwate University have combined wood with a nickel-zinc ferrite compound to produce a natural-looking material that absorbs radio waves. Panel a room or railway carriage with it and no radio-frequency device will work inside it. Oka found that impregnating wooden panels with fine particles of ferrite produced the most effective mobile-proof material.
Because it is a passive technology, 'magnetic wood' also avoids the tricky legal problems associated with conventional radio jamming techniques, and the hope is that one day B&Q will sell the stuff by the metre to those who like the sound of silence.