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The groundbreaking tractor beam, made of a hollow laser beam (a laser bright around the edges and hollow in the centre), was able to move particles 0.2 mm in diameter distances up to 20 cm (7.87 in) -- around 100 times farther than has been achieved in previous experiments.

"Demonstration of a large scale laser beam like this is a kind of holy grail for laser physicists," said Professor Wieslaw Krolikowski from the Research School of Physics and Engineering at The Australian National University.

Previous experiments, such as those conducted by the University of St Andrews, relied upon the motion of photons to propel particles on a microscopic level. The ANU's experiment, however, used the laser differently: rather than photon momentum, the team used heat.

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