Scientists from Simon Fraser University in Canada has created a Star Trek phase-like machine capable of stunning and killing.

However, anyone hoping that it will become a powerful new weapon could be disappointed, scientists have only proven the effect on worms.

According to researchers, the beams emitted from the phaser were able to stun worms.

Even when the ultraviolet light was turned off the animals stayed stunned. However, if they were subsequently exposed to a different form of light they recovered again and were able to move.

The researchers claim that this is the first time that such an effect has been demonstrated in an animal. And although some of the worms died, most of them lived through the process.

The effect is caused by using a molecule which changes its shape when exposed to ultraviolet light.

The team behind the study claim that the phaser could someday be used as a treatment for medical conditions, but admit that they are as yet unsure what they would be.

The findings are published in Journal of the American Chemical Society.