The implications of the research could be huge. The Caltech scientists devised the so-called “photonic levitation and propulsion” system by designing a complex pattern that could be etched into an object’s surface. If the surfaces of objects are covered with microscopic nanoscale patterns specially designed to interact with beams of light, they could be propelled without fuel. The light source can also be millions of miles away.The researchers argue that their light manipulation theoretically could work with an object of any size, from micrometers to spaceship size.
What do you think about development of a spacecraft that way? Scientists say that this system could send a spacecraft to the nearest star outside our Solar System in just 20 years, a huge decrease on the millions of years actually calculated. “We’re a long way from actually doing that, but we are in the process of testing out the principles,” said said Professor Harry Atwater. Because the concept would remove the need for onboard fuel, spacecraft could travel lighter, faster and farther than ever before. On Earth, the technology could speed up manufacturing of small objects.