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Holographic sonic tractor beam lifts and moves objects using soundwaves

The world’s first sonic tractor beams that can lift and move objects using soundwaves have been built by a team that includes researchers at the University of Sussex. Tractor beams are mysterious rays that can grab and lift objects. The concept was created by science-fiction writers but has since come to fascinate scientists and engineers. Researchers at the Universities of Sussex and Bristol, in collaboration with Ultrahaptics, have now built a working tractor beam that uses high-amplitude soundwaves to generate an acoustic hologram that can pick up and move small objects. The technique, published in Nature Communications today (27 October 2015), could be developed for a wide range of applications. For example, a sonic production line could transport delicate objects and assemble them, all without physical contact. Or a miniature version could grip and transport drug capsules or microsurgical instruments through living tissue.”

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