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Just as air causes lift on the wings of an aeroplane, light can do the same trick, researchers have said.
The effect, first shown in simulations, was proven by showing it in action on tiny glass rods.
Like the aerofoil concept of wings, the approach, published in Nature Photonics, works by making use of the radiation pressure of light.
The results are of interest for steering "solar sails", a spacecraft propulsion based on the same force.