Doctor Who’s sonic screwdriver – coming to a DIY store near you?

The futuristic multi-tool gadget that assists sci-fi character Doctor Who on his journey through the universe could become a reality for DIY enthusiasts across the world, according to engineers at Bristol University.

Only probably not in time for Christmas. Shame…

Ultrasonic engineers at the institution have joined forces with The Big Bang: UK Young Scientists and Engineers Fair to figure out how a real-life version of the gadget, which uses sonic technology to open locks and undo screws, could be created.

Bruce Drinkwater, Professor of Ultrasonics, is working with The Big Bang team to inspire young scientists of the future.

He says the answer lies in operating ultrasonic sound waves at frequencies far beyond the realms of human hearing, they can be used to apply forces to objects.

The technology is already being trialled in modern manufacturing and ultrasonic force fields are also being developed to separate diseased cells from healthy cells in the medical field.

Professor Drinkwater and The Big Bang team are now exploring whether super-powerful versions of these sound beams could bring Doctor Who’s iconic device to life.

He said “Doctor Who is renowned for bending the rules of science. But technology has radically moved on since the Doc first stepped out of his Tardis in the sixties.

“Whilst a fully-functioning time machine may still be light years away, engineers are already experimenting with ultrasonic waves to move and manipulate small objects.”

Engineers are looking into how ultrasonic waves can be spun at high speed to create a twisting force similar to that of a miniature tornado, which could undo screws remotely.

They have also experimented with rotating ultrasonic force fields which would act like the head of a real screwdriver.

Professor Drinkwater hopes his work to make the impossible possible will inspire engineers, technologists and inventors of the future: “Doctor Who’s adventures have captured the imaginations of millions, young and old.

“And, however far fetched the Time Lord’s encounters may seem, there are engineers and scientists out there who are using their skills to bring the magic to life.

“The sonic screwdriver may still be sometime in the making but ultrasonic technology is already making its mark in the medical and manufacturing arenas with some exciting results.”

Taking place at ICC London ExCeL from 10 – 12 March 2011, The Big Bang is also the ideal place to find out about the exciting career options available in science and engineering. It will host the finals of the prestigious National Science & Engineering Competition and also kicks off National Science & Engineering Week 2011.