Sound waves put levitation on the move

Technique transports nonmagnetic particles such as cells, water droplets and coffee grounds

By Meghan Rosen, 15:30 PM July 15, 2013

Levitating objects can spin, glide and collide together — no magnets or magic tricks required.

Using steady streams of sound waves, engineers maneuvered hovering toothpicks, coffee granules and water droplets through the air, a team from ETH Zurich reports July 15 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Scientists could use the touch-free technique to gently handle delicate or hazardous lab chemicals or to avoid contaminating cells in biological experiments.

“It’s a beautiful pi...

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