Researchers Build A Real-Life 'Star Trek' Tractor Beam - In Miniature

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A tractor beam, like of the one they used in sci-fi classic series Star Trek, has been developed that uses sound to catch and move objects in mid-air. The scientists used dozens of minute ultrasonic loudspeakers to generate an acoustic 'hologram' in the air over it. Their method permits them to generate a range of shapes with the sound, letting them to operate objects in different ways. For instance, the scientists were able to mould the sound into a pair of fingers or tweezers that can hold a small bead, a spinning vortex to drag it into a place. Professor Sriram of University of Sussex, co-founder of the sonic technology corporation Ultrahaptics working on this the device, said: “In our device we manipulate objects in mid-air and seemingly defy gravity. Here we individually control dozens of loudspeakers to tell us an optimal solution to generate an acoustic hologram that can manipulate multiple objects in real-time without contact.”

This technology centers waves of high power sound to snatch, lift and move minor items in a alike way to a human hand, and as exactly as a pair of tweezers. Although it is a long way from being dominant enough to catch and move the types of objects seen in the TV series, it can help revolutionize gentle procedures like gathering electronic components, moving drugs or conducting surgery. Sadly for admirers of the long-running show, the technology is not going to be exactly much use to the team of the Starship Enterprise as sound waves do not travel through the vacuum of space.
Nonetheless, the sonic tractor beam can be of far more use here on Planet Earth.

In Star Trek, the team of the USS Enterprise use a fixated beam of graviton to seizure and transport passing objects in space.

For their actual tractor beam, the scientists used a collection of 64 speakers to generate the high-intensity sound waves which basically produces a force field around an object like a plastic bead.

By sensibly directing the output of the speakers, the bead can be elevated, held stationary, stirred and also revolved.

Researchers were also able to move several small beads at once.

Unlike earlier efforts to use sound in this way, the object does not need to be bounded by speakers at all.

As an alternative by focusing the sound at different points, it is likely to make the acoustic hologram from a smooth arrangement of speakers.
Professor Bruce Drinkwater, an ultrasonics researcher at the University of Bristol, added: 'We all know that sound waves can have a physical effect.

But here we have managed to control the sound to a degree never previously achieved.'

Tractor beam can invisibly ensnare and levitate objects
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