Advanced 3D printing technology is getting close to resembling replicators from Star Trek and iPads look a whole lot like the gadgets Geordi was always carrying around. Now, physicists have taken another step towards making Starfleet technology a reality by inventing a working tractor beam, which is essentially a laser that can move things. Sure, currently it can only move itty bitty molecules, but the fact that it works at all opens up all sorts of exciting possibilities.
NYU professors David Ruffner and David Grier have developed a way to harness Bessel beams in order to pull particles towards a laser source. The result is the beginnings of a very tiny tractor beam capable of moving silica spheres suspended in water. Read More