Research

Acoustic Levitation

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Researchers at Argonne National Laboratory are using acoustic levitation of droplets to further pharmaceuticals. By placing two precisely aligned speakers opposite one another, a standing wave can be created. At nodes along the standing wave, there is no net transfer of energy, but the acoustic pressure is sufficient to cancel the effect of gravity, allowing light objects like droplets to levitate. This is why, in the video, you see the droplets are placed at equally spaced distances and if one is slightly off the node, it vibrates noticeably. The benefit of this levitation to pharmaceutical research comes at the molecular level; drugs formed from solutions kept in a solid container are likely to be crystalline in structure and thus less efficiently absorbed by the body. If the drug can instead be kept in an amorphous state by evaporating the solution without a container, then the resulting drug may be effective at a lower dosage than its crystalline counterpart. (Video credit: Argonne National Laboratory, via Laughing Squid, submitted by @__pj)

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