U.K. scientists unveiled a 3D-printed “tractor beam” that can move small objects using sonic waves.
The “tractor beam” uses sound waves to levitate, push and pull objects in mid-air. Researchers published a detailed paper explaining how members of the public can build their own handheld acoustic tractor beam. Scientists estimate people could buy all the materials necessary to build the beam for about $70.
“Previously we developed a tractor beam, but it was very complicated and pricey because it required a phase array, which is a complex electronic system,” Dr. Asier Marzo, the University of Bristol researcher who developed the technology, said in a statement. “In this paper, we made a simple, static tractor beam that only requires a static piece of matter.”
“The most important thing is that it can attract the particle towards the source,” Marzo continued. “It’s very easy to push particles from the source, but what’s hard is to pull them toward the source; to attract the particles. When you move the tractor beam, the particle moves … It can levitate small plastics; it can also levitate a fly and small biological samples.”
Presently, the tractor beam is only able to levitate incredibly small objects, but researchers are working to overcome size-related limitations.
Scientists have developed other types of tractor beams utilizing water and lasers.
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