Scientists Build Working Star Trek Tractor Beam

Scientists Build Working Star Trek Tractor Beam

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The microscale tractor beam could be used to sort the individual parts of human blood.

Using nothing but optical fields and specially configured beams of light, a team of researchers in Scotland and the Czech Republic have created a device that pulls microscopic particles of matter. It is, in fact, a realization of the Star Trek tractor beam. The array uses a mirror and a lens to focus a laser into a X shape. At the point where the laser crosses itself, the photons interfere with each other and counteract the motion of photons against matter. When the photons are scattered by counteracting with each other, the matter at the center moves backwards towards the source of the light. Normally, light moving in one direction would simply push particles away. The applications are currently limited to small objects, scaling up to move larger objects would turn the cargo to dust, because at that point you'd just have a military grade laser.

The team hopes that an applied, non-experimental version of the technology could be used to create more effective medical testing. The ability to move individual small objects could sort out, for example, the various components of human blood or cells. The researchers also anticipate that their ideas will have application for people working on moving particles using sonics. Tomas Cizmar, a researcher with the project, said that "because of the similarities between optical and acoustic particle manipulation we anticipate that this concept will provide inspiration for exciting future areas outside the field of photonics." In short: expect a sonic screwdriver to follow along soon.

The project was a collaboration between University of St. Andrews in Scotland and the Institute of Scientific Instruments in the Czech Republic. The researchers' findings were published in the January digital issue of the journal Nature Photonics.

Source: Time

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Damnit! I knew I should have made that hipster Dr. Who meme.

First the blood, and then THE WORLD!

Muhuhahahahaha! *cough* *cough*

Not the most flattering image to go with the article.

Also, if I remember correctly, we had that news in off-topic days ago. You're getting slow, guys!

Yes.

Hell.

Yes.

Admittedly, it's microscopic, but it's so damn cool! And they're making it bigger! AHHH! The present is such a groovy time to be alive.

the first versions are going to be misused for a laser based hungry, hungry hippos game...

SirPlindington:
Yes.

Hell.

Yes.

Admittedly, it's microscopic, but it's so damn cool! And they're making it bigger! AHHH! The present is such a groovy time to be alive.

yes, but we are going to be long dead when the first commercially and private available versions come out.

damn you, children of tomorrow!

I wonder how the temperature in space would effect the laser. Maybe the cold will keep the laser from frying it's target?

Interesting... You can use light to move stuff...

TO THE LABS!

I would think this image would have been more apropos

image

DAMN YOU! WHAT HAS SCIENCE WROUGHT?

Ok guys! Next on the list of tech we need to work on is teleporters! Annnnnnd go!

For some reason, the description of how it works made me think "medical applications sound fun". Chemo therapy? Pfft, tractor beam the cancer out.

How small is a "small object"? Is a doughnut small enough?

Is this the same deal as splitting my atoms and killing me if I teleported and what would be transported would be a perfect clone of me?

As someone else posted in one of the recent 'latest technological discovery' threads, I would like to add ....

... WHERE IS MY HOLO-PORN DAMNIT ?!?!

(and my ride-on dinobot, my FTL drive, and my immortality)

EDIT: And btw, good to see that despite war, GFC, and general societal apathy, scientists are still working on Discoveries of Awesomeness, +3 (+4 vs. Cyborgs).

I'm still waiting for Holodeck. With Scarlett Johansson model to play with. It's all I need from life.

 

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