Scientists Essentially Create Tractor Beam Using Light to Grab Nanoparticles [VIDEO]
Mar 05, 2014 12:02
Is this, in other words a working tractor beam? Researchers at the Institute of Photonic Sciences have come up with optical nanotweezers that use light to move tiny particles in three dimensions. Imagine if this were to be scaled in size!
Optical tweezers have existed since the 1980s, but they've only been able to trap objects a few hundred nanometers in size. The devices weren't able to manipulate objects in three dimensions either and the light beams used ended up overheating the objects they grabbed.
A group led by Professor Romain Quidant has created an optical tweezer that uses a metal-coated optical fiber with a bowtie-shaped opening. It focuses a beam of laser light in a way that "self-induced back action" shapes the light to envelop and trap a microscopic object.
This is pretty much the world's first "tractor beam" that can grab a super-tiny 50 nanometer object and move it across distances of several micrometers. Scientists can safely grab and move single molecules or viruses without damaging them, or construct DNA or other structures piece by piece.
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