A TRACTOR beam familiar from sci-fi classics such as Star Wars and Star Trek, has become fact not fiction.

Physicists at Dundee University have created a functioning acoustic ­tractor beam, using energy from an ultrasound array to exert force behind an object and pull it to the energy source.

"This is the first time anyone has demonstrated a working acoustic tractor beam and the first time such a beam has been used to move anything bigger than microscopic targets," said Dr Christine Demore, of the Institute for Medical Science and Technology at Dundee.

Loading article content

"We were able to show that you could exert sufficient force on an object around one centimetre in size to hold or move it, by directing twin beams of energy from the ultrasound array towards the back of the object."

The team used an ultrasound device that is already clinically approved for use in MRI-guided focused ultrasound surgery.

The Dundee researchers previously demonstrated that Dr Who's sonic screwdriver could be created using a similar ultrasound array.