Scientists have created the tiniest “tweezers” known to date, which can move around objects the size of single molecules with a “bow tie” of light.
“To my knowledge these are the smallest tweezers ever built,” physicist Mathieu Juan, from Sydney’s Macquarie University, told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. “They will allow people to manipulate, scan and move around very small objects such as viruses.”
In a study describing the technology, published in Nature Nanotechnology, the scientists were able to move a plastic sphere–that was only 50 nanometers wide, roughly 1,000 times thinner than a human hair–over significant distances. It works like this, according to ABC:
The technology could be used to assemble tiny structures or physically manipulate molecules like DNA, the researchers said. Unlike previous technologies, it doesn’t increase the temperature of tiny molecules, which are vary sensitive to heat and pressure.