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Technology made famous by sci-fi classics has finally become a reality

Scientists create real life tractor beam

That’s no moon, it’s a space station.

Outside of sci-fi classics such as Star Wars and Star Trek, the idea of a fully functioning tractor beam has long been just a dream.

But scientists have today produced a real life alternative, which uses light to attract objects.

The research, published in Nature Photonics, is currently only able to move microscopic particles, however, it is hoped that it may eventually serve an important role in medical applications by targeting and attracting individual cells.

Lead researcher of the project, Dr Tomas Cizmar, has emphasised that whilst the technology founded today is new, it could have huge implications within the future.

"The practical applications could be very great, very exciting. The tractor beam is very selective in the properties of the particles it acts on, so you could pick up specific particles in a mixture," says Cizmar.

"Eventually this could be used to separate white blood cells, for example."

Tractor beam technology has long been a desire for many in the field of science, as back in 2011, researchers from China and Hong Kong showed how such a device could potentially work.

US space agency NASA even funded studies into the technology in order to examine how it may aid the manipulations of samples in space.

Whilst the research team leading the project failed to detail any potential applications of the technology in inter-galactic space travel, sci-fi fans around the world will certainly be waiting with bated breath.

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