Catching Particles with Sound

Acoustic levitation traps particles using specially shaped sound waves, but, thus far, it’s only been useful for small particles. One common method of trapping forms the sound waves into a vortex-like shape. Particles in one of these acoustic vortices will spin rapidly, become unstable, and get ejected from the vortex if they’re larger than about half the wavelength of sound used. Recently, though, researchers have stabilized much larger particles by trapping them between two acoustic vortices with opposite spins. The researchers alternate between the two vortices so that each can counteract the other in order to hold the particle in the center of the trap. The new technique has enabled them to trap particles up to 4 times larger than those in previous experiments. (Image and research credit: A. Marzo et al., source; via Science)

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