Watch this: Japanese scientists levitate and move objects around using just soundwaves
'Acoustic levitation' technology uses intense ultrasound waves to suspend polystyrene particles and small electronic components in midair
If you’ve ever stood near the speakers at a particularly loud gig then you’ll know that sound waves can make the presence felt in a distinctly physical manner.
However, Japanese researchers have now shown how this air pressure created by high-energy sounds can be used to manipulate objects in 3D space by using an array of ultrasound speakers to levitate small objects. Watch the video above to see their work in action.
Ultrasound waves are sounds with a frequency too high to be detected by human ears, and the effect demonstrated in the above video has been theorised about since at least the 1930s, according to the science journal Nature.
The technology works best when the height of the soundwave used is roughly equal to that of object being manipulated, a natural limit that makes it difficult, if not impossible, to levitate large objects such as humans in this manner.
However, the Japanese researchers involved in the project - Yoichi Ochiai, Takayuki Hoshi, and Jun Rekimoto – suggest that the technology could be used in space, noting in their paper “the possibility of developing a technology for handling objects under microgravity.”
The main application of the technology at the moment is in the creation of extremely high-purity materials. For example, crystals grown in this way are incredibly uniform as the effect of gravity on their development is negated by their suspension in midair.
This is not the first time acoustic levitation of this sort has been demonstrated, and tech site The Verge notes that in 2006 Chinese scientists managed to suspend small animals in midair using ultrasound.
A tiny fish, a ladybird and an ant were amongst the animals successfully floated, with the researchers reporting that the animals were confused by their new environment, but not harmed.
One of the scientists involved, Wen-Jun Xie, did admit that “the vitality of the fish [was] reduced” during levitation, but this was due to the fact that it was impossible to keep the animal submerged in water despite scientists' efforts to keep it wet by ‘squirting it with a syringe’.
Life & Style blogs
'Cheeky' Nando's under fire for apparently coming onto a customer on Twitter
10 ways we damage our teeth – without realising
Facebook Messenger sends 'creepily' precise location data, as revealed by Marauders Map Chrome extension
What do the emoji on Snapchat mean?
iPhone 'effective power' text: how to be safe from iOS bug that lets people crash your phone
EU referendum: David Cameron's rules are a 'democratic disgrace', says French-born Scottish politician set to be denied a vote
British tourists complain that impoverished boat migrants are making holidays 'awkward' in Kos
SNP fury as HS2 finds 'no business case' for taking fast train service to Scotland
Australian man punched in the face for defending Muslim women from abuse on train
A nation of inequality: How the UK is failing to feed its most vulnerable people
David Starkey 'tells Amal Clooney to shut up and stop over-promoting human rights'
- 1 10 ways we damage our teeth – without realising
- 2 There is something wrong but very right about this Bible illustration
- 3 iPhone 'effective power' text: how to be safe from iOS bug that lets people crash your phone
- 4 Photo of wedding guest proposing to girlfriend in front of bride and groom goes viral
- 5 Charlie Charlie Challenge explained: it's just gravity — not a Mexican demon being summoned
iJobs Gadgets & Tech
£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are the go-to company for ...
£20 - 28k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Graduate Software Develop...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Digital Web Designer is required to join a f...
£35-40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing Communicati...