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MIT creates tractor beam

May 20th, 2009 1 comment

Part four in what is turning into my five part Star Trek inspired blogs relates to some super high tech stuff at MIT. Again not so much “for consumer use” but the science nerd in me wants to share this with the world at large. It’s like that old PSA “The More You Know”, right?
Anyway, some smarty pants professor and graduate student at MIT have figured out a way to use a “tractor beam” of light to pick up, hold and move around individual cells and other objects on the surface of a microchip.
Yes, that’s right. I said tractor beam!
Here’s an image of 16 E.coli cells on a microchip that the tractor beam manipulated into spelling MIT:
Tractor beam e.coli

They are calling this technology Optical Tweezers (which I think is a totally cute name, btw). They can be used to push around and control tiny objects (we’re talking nano to micrometer sizes)
Mostly this technology benefits engineering and biology research. Don’t expect to see new science kits on the shelves of your local Target or Toys R Us that include optical tweezer technology (come to think of it, I haven’t seen any science kits on any shelves in a real long time… what’s up with that? Do kids not think science is cool anymore? But I digress…)

Just think, if they can use this to make microchips even smaller then the iPhone will be even more awesome!

via MIT Develops ‘Tractor Beam’