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A New Sound Levitation Breakthrough

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Levitation of ant legs and bee wings. Credit: UTS Center for Audio Acoustics and Vibration

The theory of acoustic levitation has been extended by new research, also highlighting potential applications.

Sound waves can be used to levitate small objects in the air, like invisible tweezers. DIY acoustic levitation kits are readily available online, but the technology has important applications in both research and industry, including manipulation of delicate materials like living cells.

researchers in University of Technology Sydney (UTS) and the University of New South Wales (UNSW) We have recently demonstrated that both the particle shape and its effect on the sound field must be considered for precise control of particles using ultrasound.Their findings were recently published in the journal physical review letter.

Sound levitation occurs when sound waves interact and form standing waves at nodes that can “trap” particles. The core theory of Gorkov’s acoustophoresis, the current mathematical foundation of acoustic levitation, assumes that the particles being trapped are spheres.

“Previous theoretical models only considered symmetric particles.

“Using a property called the Willis coupling, we show that the asymmetry changes the forces and torques on the object during levitation, shifting the ‘trap’ position. This knowledge can be used to precisely control or classify objects smaller than the wavelength of ultrasound,” he said.

“In a broader sense, our proposed model based on shape and geometry addresses two trending areas: contactless ultrasonic manipulation and metamaterials (materials engineered to have properties not found in nature). We will get closer,” he added.

Associate Professor Sebastian Oberst, head of the Biogenic Dynamics Lab, said the ability to precisely control small objects without touching them has allowed researchers to explore insect appendages, insect wings and ants, termite legs, and more. said that it may be possible to investigate the dynamic material properties of sensitive biological objects. .

“We know that insects have fascinating abilities. Termites are very sensitive to vibration and can communicate through this sense. Ants weigh many times their own weight. It is strong and can resist great forces, and the filigree structure of the bee wing combines strength and flexibility.

“By better understanding the specific structural dynamics of how these natural objects vibrate and resist forces, industries such as construction, defense, and sensor development can take inspiration from nature. It may enable the development of new materials for use in

Researchers have focused on understanding the mechanical properties of termite sensing organs to build and innovate ultrasensitive vibration sensors. They recently identified details of subgenital structures on the legs of termites that can sense microvibrations.

“Currently, it is very difficult to assess the dynamic properties of these biomaterials. We do not even have the tools necessary to hold them. can be damaged,” said Associate Professor Oberst.

“Thus, a far-reaching application of this current theoretical work is to use non-contact analysis to extract new material principles for developing new acoustic materials.”

Reference: Willis Coupling-Induced Acoustic Radiation Force and Torque Reversal, Shahrokh Sepehrirahnama, Sebastian Oberst, Yan Kei Chiang, David A. Powell, 17 October 2022, Available here. physical review letter.
DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.129.174501

“Low radiodensity μCT scans to reveal detailed morphology of termite legs and subgeneric organs.” Travers M. Sansom, Sebastian Oberst, Adrian Richter, Joseph CS Lai, Mohammad Saadatfar, Manuela Nowotny, Theodore A. Evans, July 8, 2022 Arthropod structure and development.
DOI: 10.1016/j.asd.2022.101191

This study was funded by the Australian Research Council.

Other researchers who contributed to this study include Dr. David Powell of UNSW and Dr. Yan Kei Chiang of UNSW Canberra.

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