Part Tricorder and part lock-pick, Dr. Who's famous all-in-one device could handle any crisis — save deadlock seals. Now, researchers from Dundee University have replicated at least some of the screwdriver's functionality with a machine capable of lifting and turning suspended objects.
The Dundee device is able to raise and turn disks suspended in a water-filled tube. Granted that's not quite the same as picking a lock but does mark the first time an ultrasound device has been employed to both move and rotate objects. Previously ultrasound has only shown capable of pushing. However, the Dundee device is designed so that the momentum generated either forms a pushing beam or a rotating helix.
Dr. Mike MacDonald of the Institute for Medical Science and Technology (IMSAT) explained, "This experiment not only confirms a fundamental physics theory but also demonstrates a new level of control over ultrasound beams which can also be applied to non-invasive ultrasound surgery, targeted drug delivery and ultrasonic manipulation of cells."
Ultrasound devices are already employed in a variety of treatments however this added capability could prove extremely useful for cutting edge applications in targeted drug delivery and incisionless surgery. "The sonic screwdriver device is also part of the EU-funded nanoporation project where we are already starting to push the boundaries of what ultrasound can do in terms of targeted drug delivery and targeted cellular surgery," MacDonald continued. The team's findings will be printed in the American Physical Society's journal Physical Review Letters. [BBC - Image: The BBC]