We don't generally associate light with the ability to push or pull objects, it is just not a phenomenon we can easily observe. A team at the University of Rochester, however, have used this ability to trap and levitate tiny specs of diamonds.
The purpose behind the experiments is to start observe the effects objects have at these scales, to see how things like friction play a part. The main aim is to predict the interactions technology, and will play as it continues to shrink down into the smaller and smaller sizes.
"The position of the crystal in the trap is a very sensitive probe of forces in its environment," Vamivakas said in the university video. "The reason this is important is, as technology continues to shrink down to these length scales, we need to understand how the environment will interact with the devices that we are making."
Previously only the tinyest of small particles have been observed to be affected by the pushing forces of light. The diamond specs mark a significant increase in the mass being manipulated. The experiments will continue on as more understanding of the phenomenon is gained.
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