University of Sussex via EurekAlert:
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A team of researchers from the Universities of Bristol and Sussex in collaboration with Ultrahaptics have built the world’s first sonic tractor beam that can lift and move objects using sound waves.
Tractor beams are mysterious rays that can grab and lift objects. The concept has been used by science-fiction writers, and programmes like Star Trek, but has since come to fascinate scientists and engineers. Researchers have now built a working tractor beam that uses high-amplitude sound waves to generate an acoustic hologram which can pick up and move small objects.
The technique, published in Nature Communications, could be developed for a wide range of applications, for example a sonic production line could transport delicate objects and assemble them, all without physical contact.