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Here's How You Can Levitate Liquid And Insects At Home.

Ever wanted to levitate objects? Now you can. Researchers at the (http://www.bristol.ac.uk/) University of Bristol in the U.K. have found a way for you to levitate liquid and insects at home, the institution (https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-08/uob-nyc081517.php) announced Wednesday .  

Researchers developed a 3D-printed acoustic levitator that works with low voltage, a new technique which allows professionals working at laboratories, or ordinary people, to suspend matter in mid-air.

If you've been to a concert and felt your chest vibrate with energy of sound waves, which means you're familiar with the basis of acoustic levitation. Researchers created the TinyLev, which uses strong acoustic waves to push particles from all directions and keeps liquid and insects trapped in mid-air. The technique uses ultrasound, a high-pitched sound above human hearing, which means the powerful vibrations are harmless to people.

The research paper (http://aip.scitation.org/doi/full/10.1063/1.4989995) explains :

Sound is a mechanical wave and as such it carries momentum that can act on particles due to acoustic radiation forces. When the forces exerted on an object are strong enough and converge from all directions, the particles can be levitated and stably trapped.

Scientists created an instruction pack for the TinyLev, a multi-emitter single-axis acoustic levitator. The TinyLev can be made from low-cost off-the-shelf items and can be assembled using 3D printed sections. The kit comes with instructions and a list of parts needed to assemble the device.

Ants, flies, ladybugs and anything below a 4-mm diameter will be able to levitate with the TinyLev, the lead author of the study, Dr. Asier Marzo told International Business Times.

"Levitated things have to be balanced or they would be unstable while levitating, for instance a tadpole with its tail extended would be wobbly," Marzo said.

He also assured that no damage is inflicted on a levitated insect.

If you don't want to levitate insects, Marzo also gave other ideas on what to do with the TinyLev.

"I would encourage people at home to explore the capability of our levitator to work for extensive periods of time, experiments like germinating a levitating seed or the crystallization of water and sugar," he told IBT.

The TinyLev includes parking sensors, a motor driver, an Arduino Nano, which is a single board microcontroller, and 3-D printed part. The TinyLev comes with 72 transducers, 36 on the top and array and 36 on the bottom. 

Researchers described the importance of transducers in the paper:

The main components of the levitator are the transducers, elements that transform the electrical input signal into acoustic waves. For operating in air, transducers for distance measurement were found to provide good acoustic power, consistent resonant frequency, and are available at a low-price.

Researchers say the TinyLev is safe to use, can withstand temperature or humidity changes, and can work for extensive periods of time. However, be sure to put a fabric underneath the liquid while it's levitating, so it doesn't ruin the TinyLev when it drops.

The new levitation technique can be "applied to a range of applications, including blood tests," the university said. Marzo pointed out that levitating matter in the air could help lab researchers in their work.

"Levitating samples in mid-air can improve diagnosis from blood samples and detection of the structure of molecules," Marzo said in a (https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-08/uob-nyc081517.php) statement . "Usually a sample on a microscope slide is illuminated with x-rays, lasers or another type of radiation so the reflected radiation can be analyzed. However, no matter how transparent the microscope slide is, it will always interfere with the test. On the contrary, if the sample is levitated, all the reflections are going to be from the sample."

The new technique was published in the (http://aip.scitation.org/doi/full/10.1063/1.4989995) Review of Scientific Instruments . Additionally, Marzo uploaded a 4-minute tutorial video on YouTube explaining how the TinyLev can be set up. The TinyLev can be fun for those who like building stuff and want to watch spiders levitate, or for teachers to build and try out with their students in class. The TinyLev should cost $70 if the parts are sourced correctly, Marzo said.

You can watch the tutorial and see how acoustic levitation works here:

Acoustic levitation is different from magnetic levitation technology. Although acoustic levitation is not as strong, it can still suspend matter, like drops of liquids and spiders.

"Acoustic levitation has been explored in hundreds of studies for applications in pharmaceuticals, biology or biomaterials," said Marzo in a press release. "It holds the promise of supporting innovative and ground-breaking processes."

With TinyLev, anyone can now levitate matter.

"Historically levitators have been restricted to a small number of research labs because they needed to be custom-made, carefully tuned and required high-voltage," (https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-08/uob-nyc081517.php) said Marzo . "Now, not only scientists but also students can build their own levitator at home or school to experiment and try new applications of acoustic levitation."

However, you shouldn't expect to have the ability to levitate other bigger objects soon. Researchers at Bristol are focusing on trapping small particles more selectively.

"I know it could be disappointing but for me the future of acoustic levitation is not levitating apples or cars but microscopic objects such as drug capsules inside your body or tiny electronic components," Marzo told IBT.
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Publication:International Business Times - US ed.
Date:Aug 17, 2017
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