Whether it's been the Force, a spell cast by some Hogwarts alumni or Marty McFly's hoverboard, nothing makes us perk up quite like the mention of levitation. While Hollywood makes us think that defying gravity has a multidirectional range of motion, the true technology behind levitation has been somewhat stuck in the mud.
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However, scientists at the University of Tokyo have developed a new technique for levitating objects with sound waves that even allows the objects to be steered in three dimensions.
While acoustic levitation is nothing new, previous scientists have only been able to move particles over an up-and-down fixed axis. However, in their new paper, Yoichi Ochiai, Takayuki Hoshi, and Jun Rekimoto describe new innovations for manipulating objects in three directions like a trio of Jedi Knights:
Our manipulation system has two original features. One is the direction of the ultrasound beam, which is arbitrary because the force acting toward its centre is also utilised. The other is the manipulation principle by which a localised standing wave is generated at an arbitrary position and moved three-dimensionally by opposed and ultrasonic phased arrays.