Scientists Invent Real-Life Tractor Beam
Scientists from Scotland and the Czech Republic have created a microscopic beam of light which is able to attract objects towards its source. The experimental proof of concept was carried out by teams from the Scottish University of St Andrews and the Czech Institute of Scientific Instruments (ISI).
Light manipulation techniques have been around for around 40 years, but when light and matter interact the matter is usually pushed away by a stream of photons. In recent years theoretical physicist found a set of parameters in which this phenomenon was reversed, pulling the object towards the light source. This is the first time, however, that anybody has been able to make it happen in real life.
“The whole team have spent a number of years investigating various configurations of particles delivery by light. I am proud our results were recognised in this very competitive environment and I am looking forward to new experiments and applications. It is a very exciting time,” said Professor Pavel Zemanek.
Don’t expect the tractor beam to be fitted to the next NASA space shuttle, or in place of the tow bar on your car, however. The most likely appliation of the tractor beam will be as an aid to medical testing procedures such as the examination of blood samples.