Acoustic Tractor Beam Uses Sound Holograms To Move Objects


Gene Roddenberry would be beaming with pride right now to see the scientific community hellbent on making his science fiction into science fact. Gene did actually get to see some of his ideas turn into real world devices, things like the communicator, handheld computers, universal translators and lasers as weapons. Scientists are starting to take more of Gene’s ideas and bring them into fruition, such as tractor beams. Scientists are working on an acoustic tractor beam that uses holograms made of sound to move objects about.

In a new paper published today in Nature Communications, researchers figured out a way to manipulate a tiny physical object using what they call, acoustic holograms.

The researchers used a grid of tiny loudspeakers to levitate, rotate, and otherwise manipulate a tiny ball in mid air. They did this by programming the speakers to send out high intensity sounds that create a kind of force field around the object. In the GIF above, you see one of their tractor beam models, which can move a small object around the grid as though it were held by human fingers, (aka, the ‘hologram’ the researchers were talking about). Other variations of their model involve creating a twister-like cone of sound that can suck an object up into the heart of the beam.

While it’s not pulling in a damaged Federation vessel, it is a start of something very cool with potential for a bevy of applications. It’s a very exciting time to be living in as technology and science continue to move forward at such a rapid rate.

What do you think of this acoustic tractor beam? Let us know in the comments below or on Google+, Facebook and Twitter.

  Source: Popular Science
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