Miniature version of Star Trek's 'tractor beam' created

A miniature version of the Star Trek "tractor beam" has been created by a team of scientists and could be used in medical testing.

Star Trek
A light beam is converted into a pulling device, that gathers micro-objects just like when using a chain. Credit: University of St Andrews

In the popular science fiction show, a "tractor beam" was a method of using a beam of light to pull spaceships and other large objects.

Light manipulation techniques have existed since the 1970s but researchers said this is the first time a light beam has been used to draw objects towards the light source, albeit at a microscopic level.

A team of scientists from the University of St Andrews and the Institute of Scientific Instruments in the Czech Republic said they have found a way to generate a special optical field that efficiently reverses radiation pressure of light.

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