Tractor Beams Make A Move Toward Reality

Posted by on September 8th, 2010

It’s official… we can now move objects with simple lasers.

Developed at the Australian National University, the new discovery can move small objects 100X larger than a bacterium up to a meter in water.

The device works by shining a hollow around tiny glass particles. The air surrounding the particle heats up, while the dark center of the beam stays cool. When the particle starts to drift out of the middle and into the bright laser beam, the force of heated air molecules bouncing around and hitting the particle’s surface is enough to nudge it back to the center.

A small amount of light also seeps into the darker middle part of the beam, heating the air on one side of the particle and pushing it along the length of the laser beam. If another such laser is lined up on the opposite side of the beam, the speed and direction the particle moves can be easily manipulated by changing the brightness of the beams.

Researchers are confident that with enough testing they should be able to move larger objects longer distances, eventually allowing you to become even lazier!


One Response to “Tractor Beams Make A Move Toward Reality”

  1. Josh Bulloc Says:

    It blew my mind when I learned that light contacting an object exerts a force on that object.

    Josh Bulloc
    Kansas City, MO
    How can I help?