Sorcery: Levitating Drops Of Liquid With Acoustic Waves

September 17, 2012


This is a video of a physicist from Argonne National Laboratory demonstrating acoustic levitation, first by floating some little styrofoam balls, then individual drops of liquid with pharmaceutical inside. Why pharmaceuticals? Hover-weed, brobro.

The levitator uses two small speakers to generate sound waves at frequencies slightly above the audible range (around 22kHz). By aligning the top and the bottom speakers perfectly, they create two sets of sound waves that perfectly interfere with each other, creating a "standing wave". At certain points -- known as nodes -- along a standing wave, there is no net transfer of energy at all; the acoustic pressure from the sound waves precisely cancels out the effect of gravity, allowing for light objects to levitate.

This "acoustic levitation" is used to evaporate solutions without allowing them to crystallise. At a molecular level, pharmaceutical structures fall into two categories: amorphous or crystalline. Amorphous drugs a generally taken up by the body more efficiently than their crystalline cousins because they are more highly soluble and have a higher bioavailability, which means a lower dose can be used.

Hey, anything that makes drugs more effective is A-okay in my book. Then maybe all my prescriptions won't cost fifty bazillion dollars. "Jesus -- are you dying, GW?" Since the day I was born.

Hit the jump for the short, worthwhile video.

Thanks to Bruce, scientits (NICE!), emily and OD Wan Kenobi, who all told me suppositories are the way to go and may or may yes be the reason I have an @$$hole full of Advil right now.

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