Hovering reaction driven by sound


Scientists have designed a device that can levitate materials using sound. Daniele Foresti and colleagues at ETH Zurich in Switzerland used their acoustic levitator to create this explosive mid-air reaction between a tiny water droplet and a grain of sodium. The levitator works by sending powerful ultrasound waves between an emitting surface and a reflector, which bounces them back. Where the emitted and reflected waves meet, they interfere and create stable areas that can trap small pieces of material. The positions of the waves can then be altered to move the hovering material around.

The team were able to watch chemical reactions in mid-air, mix water droplets with instant coffee granules and even levitate a toothpick. They say the levitator could have important applications in research. As the technique is completely contactless, it could be useful for processes such as DNA transfection that are vulnerable to contamination.


Related Content

Chemistry World podcast - June 2013

3 June 2013 Podcast | Monthly

news image

We discover 300 years of chemistry in Edinburgh with Eleanor Campbell, and explore the secrets of the main group elements

April 2015

1 April 2015 Letters

news image

A classic demonstration explained, and misadventures with mercury

Most Read

US government science institute's one time police chief linked to campus meth lab

31 July 2015 News and Analysis

news image

Explosion injuring a member of the National Institute of Standards and Technology's security force uncovered methamphetamine ...

Antifreeze polymer protects cells as they thaw

29 July 2015 Research

news image

Simple synthetic polymer found to enhance cryopreservation of red blood cells by inhibiting ice crystal growth

Most Commented

(–)-Jiadifenolide

27 July 2015 Organic Matter

news image

BRSM wonders what makes a route so good it becomes the last total synthesis of a complex target

Butterfly population collapse prompts lawsuit against EPA

5 March 2015 News and Analysis

news image

US agency criticised for failing to investigate link between glyphosate and the dwindling monarch butterfly population