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Real-life Doctor Who sonic screwdriver uses ultrasonic beams to perform medical procedures

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A university in Scotland is developing a real version of Doctor Who's sonic screwdriver, which can use ultrasonic beams to manipulate objects.

Dr. Who sonic screwdriver
Dr. Who sonic screwdriver

In Doctor Who the sonic screwdriver can do anything from picking a lock to tracking aliens, but researchers at the University of Dundee in Scotland are building a real-life version that could be used to perform a variety of medical procedures. The device uses an ultrasonic beam to move objects up and down, and the beam features a rotating structure — similar to a DNA helix, but with more strands — to spin them. In a demonstration the team managed to levitate and spin a small disk in a tub of water, but it's more than just a magic trick.

"Like Dr. Who's own device, our sonic screwdriver is capable of much more than just spinning things around," explained Dr. Mike MacDonald. He says that the device has several potential applications in the medical field, including "non-invasive ultrasound surgery, targeted drug delivery, and ultrasonic manipulation of cells." The screwdriver is being funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council — the same group behind the Cyberplasm — as part of a UK-wide project researching ultrasonic manipulation. You probably won't see this technology in a hospital anytime soon, but we can guarantee you one thing — it won't be much use in searching for extraterrestrial life.