The "Archimedes screw" is advancing at the speed of light

A group of researchers led by Dr. Alon Babad has succeeded in realizing and demonstrating the action of an all-bright Archimedes screw.

17 July 2018
Alon Babad

An active field of research, laser optical trapping works to control the movement and position of particles of different sizes and shapes. The ability to move small particles in a precise and controlled manner is important to both basic and applied science. For example, the ability to control the movement of single atoms can be used to realize quantum computing, and the research also contributes to the study of biological specimens and pollutants.

 

Now scientists at Tel Aviv University have harnessed a 2,300-year-old water displacement technology to develop a novel laser beam that traps and moves particles in specific directions.

 

"We have created a light beam that looks and acts like Archimedes' screw," says Dr. Alon Bahabad of the Physical Optics Laboratory at TAU's School of Electrical Engineering. "Instead of traveling in a straight line like regular laser beams, our beam consists of two helical strands, akin to the shape of DNA, and we can use this beam to move very small particles. The rotation of the beam determines the direction in which the particles, whose size ranges between tens of nanometers to about 10 microns, are conveyed."

 

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