All of us sci-fi fans will recognize it, an invisible tractor beam that can tow stuff in space, such as spaceships. Here is a mini-tractor beam that you can build yourself.

Asier Marzo, a doctoral student at the Public University of Navarre, levitating a 3cm diameter expanded polysterine sphere with a DIY portable tractor beam.
Credit: Asier Marzo

The concept of tractor beam that can attract one object to another from a distance, originates in fiction, first coined by science fiction author E. E. Smith in his novel Spacehounds of IPC from 1931.

Since the 1990s, there have been some attempts to realize the concept, with researcher laboring with different techniques to make it work and having some success on a microscopic level.

Now, engineering student Asier Marzo lead a team that built a mini-tractor beam that uses sound to catch things in the air and pull it towards it. With possible targets being small objects such as beads or perhaps insects, it is quite cool.

What is even cooler is that the design is supposedly so simple that it can be printed using a 3D printer and then assembled.

Want to build your own handheld tractor beam? This video tutorial will guide you through the process.


A. Marzo et al. Realization of Compact Tractor Beams using Acoustic Delay-Lines,” DOI: 10.1063/1.4972407