An illustration showing a sphere levitate in mid-air. Depositphotos.

Acoustic Levitation Research Shows Sound Can Carry Mass

Scientists have broadened our understanding of acoustic levitation by fine-tuning particle control with the use of ultrasonic waves.


New research reveals it has broadened our understanding of the field of acoustic levitation. This was done by helping fine-tune particle control using ultrasonic waves. Science fiction and fantasy used to be the only areas where object levitation was seen. But now, it has practical applications in research, industry, and even among hobbyists. In a new study conducted by scientists at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) and the University of New South Wales (UNSW), scientists found that a particle’s shape has a significant impact on the acoustic field and is necessary to consider when controlling it with ultrasonic waves. When sound waves interact, they can create nodes that trap particles. Assuming spheres as particles, Gorkov’s fundamental theory of acoustophoresis forms the mathematical foundation for acoustic levitation. Until now, only symmetrical particles have been considered in theoretical models.


Real-world application of acoustic levitation

This theory can now include asymmetrical particles. And this makes it more relevant in the real world. As a result of a phenomenon known as Willis coupling, scientists have demonstrated that asymmetry changes the forces and torques exerted on an object during levitation. This shifts the ‘trapping’ location. The knowledge obtained from this research can be used to precisely control or sort objects whose wavelength is smaller than the wavelength of ultrasound. According to the scientists, the shape-geometry model proposed in their study will bring ultrasonic manipulation and metamaterials (materials engineered to have a unique feature) closer together. The research has just been published in the journal Physical Review Letters.


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Written by Ivan Petricevic

I've been writing passionately about ancient civilizations, history, alien life, and various other subjects for more than eight years. You may have seen me appear on Discovery Channel's What On Earth series, History Channel's Ancient Aliens, and Gaia's Ancient Civilizations among others.

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