Levitating objects with light
Published: 11:03 PM, 20 March 2019
Researchers at Caltech have designed a way to levitate and propel objects using only light, by creating specific nanoscale patterning on the objects' surfaces.
Though still theoretical, the work is a step toward developing a spacecraft that could reach the nearest planet outside of our solar system in 20 years, powered and accelerated only by light.
A paper describing the research appears online in the March 18 issue of the journal Nature Photonics. The research was done in the laboratory of Harry Atwater, Howard Hughes Professor of Applied Physics and Materials Science in Caltech's Division of Engineering and Applied Science.
Decades ago, the development of so-called optical tweezers enabled scientists to move and manipulate tiny objects, like nanoparticles, using the radiative pressure from a sharply focused beam of laser light. This work formed the basis for the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics. However, optical tweezers are only able to manipulate very small objects and only at very short distances.
Ognjen Ilic, postdoctoral scholar and the study's first author, gives an analogy: "One can levitate a ping pong ball using a steady stream of air from a hair dryer. But it wouldn't work if the ping pong ball were too big, or if it were too far away from the hair dryer, and so on."
With this new research, objects of many different shapes and sizes -- from micrometers to meters -- could be manipulated with a light beam. The key is to create specific nanoscale patterns on an object's surface. This patterning interacts with light in such a way that the object can right itself when perturbed, creating a restoring torque to keep it in the light beam. Thus, rather than requiring highly focused laser beams, the objects' patterning is designed to "encode" their own stability. The light source can also be millions of miles away.
"We have come up with a method that could levitate macroscopic objects," says Atwater, who is also the director of the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis. "There is an audaciously interesting application to use this technique as a means for propulsion of a new generation of spacecraft. We're a long way from actually doing that, but we are in the process of testing out the principles."
In theory, this spacecraft could be patterned with nanoscale structures and accelerated by an Earth-based laser light. Without needing to carry fuel, the spacecraft could reach very high, even relativistic speeds and possibly travel to other stars.
Atwater also envisions that the technology could be used here on Earth to enable rapid manufacturing of ever-smaller objects, like circuit boards.
- 5828 multimedia classrooms installed in Rajshahi
- Traffic sergeant’s father files writ for compensation
- Minni’s bail hearing Jul 30
- Three father of a newborn baby!
- Shokh to play Minni’s role in Eid
- Habits that extremely harmful for liver
- Rain likely to increase, temperature may fall
- Advance train tickets to be sold at 5 spots
- Fire breaks out at CMCH Psychiatry department
- 25 schoolgirls fall sick from laughing too much
- ‘Lion King’ roars as surpassing ‘Avengers’ record
- Ronaldo will not face rape charges
- Critical security flaw found in VLC Player
- Two robbers killed in Sundarbans gunfight
- Large-scale government data hacks in Russia, Bulgaria
- Mehazabien with new story
- Shinzo Abe wins Japan’s upper house poll
- National Public Service Day-2019 today
- Renu lynched in Badda: 2 more held
- Drug peddler killed in Meherpur gunfight
- Suspended ACC director Basir held
- Bangladesh to play warm-up match today
- ‘Child lifters’ rumor: innocence loses life
- Chandrayaan-2: India launches second Moon mission
- WHO to work with DSCC in combating dengue
- Bangladesh U-19 beat England U-19
- No cattle hat blocking roads: DMP Commissioner
- Books in hand, fear in mind
- BHBCUC suspends Priya Saha
- Farmers passing busy days in cattle fattening
- All News »
- Priya’s allegation is not correct: US Ambassador
- Child’s head in bag, youth lynched in Netrokona
- ‘Lady Killer’ Tisha to fight against formalin in food
- Priya falsify to Trump about Bangladesh
- Woman lynched over child-lifting rumour: 500 sued
- HSC exam results tomorrow
- Rifat murder: Minni at Police Line for questioning
- Renu lynched in Badda, 3 held
- Police want 10-day remand of Minni
- Rifat killing mastermind Minni; says police
- 8 boards attain 71.85 pc pass rate
- Stocks maintain positive trend
- None took ‘liability of denying legal support’ to Minni
- How to get HSC result
- Minni sent to jail
- HSC pass rate increases 7.9 pc
- Edu Minister`s husband Toufiq Nawaz severely ill
- Put Myanmar for Rohingya return; FM urges US
- Court dismisses Minni’s two petitions
- Bangladesh to play warm-up match today
- PM to inaugurate ‘Benapole Express’ Wednesday
- Country’s 7th mobile assembling plant to be launched with FDI
- Minni on 5-day remand
- Ershad’s body in Rangpur
- Ershad’s namaz-e-janaza held in Rangpur
- Man accused in 14 cases killed in gunfight
- Google shuts down AdSense on Android, iOS for web
- Another hit of Gully Boy!
- DIG Mizan shown arrested in bribery case
- Humanity for animal !