A team of British and Czech scientists say they have created a real-life “tractor beam,” like the kind from Star Trek, that uses a beam of light to attract objects, at least on a microscopic level.
Although light manipulation techniques have existed since the 1970s, this is the first time a light beam has been used to draw objects towards the light source, albeit at a microscopic level.
Researchers from the University of St Andrews and the Institute of Scientific Instruments (ISI) in the Czech Republic have found a way to generate a special optical field that efficiently reverses radiation pressure of light.
The new technique could lead to more efficient medical testing, such as in the examination of blood samples.
“Eventually, this could be used to separate white blood cells, for example,” Cizmar told BBC News.
Cizmar says there`s much more work to be done, but he`s excited by the potential of this technology.
“Because of the similarities between optical and acoustic particle manipulation, we anticipate that this concept will provide inspiration for exciting future studies in areas outside the field of photonics,”