Realization of compact tractor beams using acoustic delay-lines

Marzo, A., Ghobrial, A., Cox, L., Caleap, M.,  Croxford, A.J. and Drinkwater, B.W. (2017) Realization of compact tractor beams using acoustic delay-lines. Applied Physics Letters, 110, 014102. doi: 10.1063/1.4972407


A method for generating stable ultrasonic levitation of physical matter in air using single beams (also known as tractor beams) is demonstrated. The method encodes the required phase modulation in passive unit cells into which the ultrasonic sources are mounted. These unit cells use waveguides such as straight and coiled tubes to act as delay-lines. It is shown that a static tractor beam can be generated using a single electrical driving signal, and a tractor beam with one-dimensional movement along the propagation direction can be created with two signals. Acoustic tractor beams capable of holding millimeter-sized polymer particles of density 1.25 g/cm3 and fruit-flies (Drosophila) are demonstrated. Based on these design concepts, we show that portable tractor beams can be constructed with simple components that are readily available and easily assembled, enabling applications in industrial contactless manipulation and biophysics.



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