If you ever watched Star Trek, you probably wished you had a tractor beam of your own. You may have even dreamed about how you would use it. Would you have used it to pull your car into the garage? Maybe you would use it to let the dog in at night?
Your dreams of owning a tractor beam may not be as farfetched as you previously thought, because scientists recently created one.
The tractor beam uses sound waves to move objects and was created by scientists at Dundee University. The team that designed the tractor beam was able to make it move a hollow triangular object forward 1cm,
Dr Christine Demore, of the university’s Institute For Medical Science and Technology (IMSAT), said: ‘We were able to show that you could exert sufficient force on an object around 1cm (about 0.4in) in size to hold or move it, by directing twin beams of energy from the ultrasound array towards the back of the object.’
The team was able to use an ultrasound device that is already clinically approved for use in MRI-guided focused ultrasound surgery to move and even rotate the object. They claim that their tractor beam is the strongest one ever created and they plan to continue to develop it to make it even stronger.
"The concept has been there for a long time. It took a couple of years to find the right pieces and get them together, with lots of other research going on. Our previous work on the sonic screwdriver led to this.We can do other shapes and sizes, but it was the best shape to demonstrate what was happening."
Next, the team will focus on shaping the tractor beam to move different types of objects. The beam needs to be shaped to match its target and different shaped targets will require different shaped beams.
The development of the tractor beam will take some time to perfect, but the team believes their results will lead to advancements in ultrasound-based techniques.
How would you use a tractor beam if you had one?
Image via YouTube