You may not be aware that tractor beams have been a staple of science fiction for quite some time, but they have really been there in the real world for quite some time as well, although on a very tiny scale.
Optical tweezers, also known as microscopic tractor beams, have the ability to grasp atoms and nanoparticles for the purposes of study and medical treatment. However, this has never truly been able to be seen by any of us. Now we are able to.
Researchers from China have developed the first tractor beam that is powerful enough to move macroscopic objects, and their findings were just published in the academic journal Optic Express. This indicates that you are now able to observe the process unfold before your own eyes with an object you can actually see.
It’s true that the first experiment was conducted in a tightly regulated laboratory using a very precise Graphene composite in a gaseous environment with a pressure far lower than that of Earth’s atmosphere. But yes! They shifted the item using a laser, of all things!
In their report, the researchers state: “With our new approach, the light pulling force has a much larger amplitude. In fact, it is more than three orders of magnitudes larger than the light pressure used to drive a solar sail, which uses the momentum of photons to exert a small pushing force.”
An experimental torsional pendulum demonstrated the laser pulling phenomena. The new research demonstrates the feasibility of flexible light manipulation of macroscopic objects by regulating the interactions between the light, object, and medium. More generally, it shows how intricate interactions between lasers and matter may be.
Lei Wang and his colleagues will most doubt keep exploring new avenues. According to Wang, as reported by Universe Today, “Our technique provides a non-contact and long-distance pulling approach, which may be useful for various scientific experiments.”
To be continued. According to the results of the research: “This work expands the scope of optical pulling from microscale to macroscale, which has great potential in macroscale optical manipulations.”
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