A team of scientists from the University of Bristol has devised a new plastic tractor-beam device. This acoustic tractor beam can pull tiny objects, like beads or even small insects, toward it using the power of sound. Although, the tractor beam is a simple device with advanced sonic elevision. The sonic elevision is the method of using the pressure of sound waves to move objects. So, by using the sound waves, the device carefully calibrates tubes so that they become organized.
Marzo said, “Previously, we developed a tractor beam. But it was very difficult and pricey because it required a phase array, which is a complex electronic system. In this paper, we made a simple, static tractor beam that only requires a static piece of matter.“
“It is very easy to push particles away with sound waves. But pulling a particle with a tractor beam was much harder,” he added.
This 3D tractor beams like half of the Death Star from the “Star Wars” films. To pass sound waves, a printed bowl is embedded with an array of different size tubes. Thus, this metamaterial can hold even a small fly in place. The tubes inside it were difficult to develop because they had to work despite the low precision of at-home 3D printers.
Scientists devised this device from standard electronics and open-source hardware components. They develop three versions of this device. Both devices manage different wavelengths of sound to trap objects of varying sizes.
Scientists noted, “The device that used inside it are very simple, like an Arduino [board] and a motor driver, and everything can be bought on Amazon for less than 50 British pounds [about $70].“
According to scientists, this tractor beam could be useful for studying cells and other biological samples in microgravity.
Marzo said, “Recently, there have been several papers about what happens if we levitate an embryo. How does it develop? Or what happens if we levitate bacteria? For instance, they discovered Salmonella is three times more [virulent] when it’s levitated. Certain microorganisms react differently to microgravity.“