Research

Scientists Invent Tractor Beam

Can only attract microscopic particles so far

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Tractor beams have been common in science fiction for decades. Fans of science fiction such as Star Trek or Star Wars will be familiar with the tractor beam. The tractor beam and popular science fiction is a beam of light able to reach out and grab a spaceship or other object and pull it towards the captors.

A group of scientists have created a real tractor beam that uses light to attract objects. Rather than using the tractor beam to capture rogue spaceships or large objects, the scientists hope that the tractor beam could have medical applications giving the ability to attract individual cells. The research team is from the University of St. Andrews and the beam they created is limited to attracting microscopic particles.

The lead researcher on the product is Doctor Thomas Cizmar, a research fellow in the school of medicine at the University of St. Andrews. The researcher admits that technique is very new, but it has huge potential. According to Cizmar, the tractor beam his team has invented is very selective in the properties of particles that it acts upon. This means that people using the tractor beam would be able to attract specific particles in a mixture.