Researchers use high-pitched sound to levitate a sphere

There are few things cooler than the way in which scientists are able to get objects to levitate above the ground. But while many of the recent levitating technologies we’ve seen involve electromagnets, a new demonstration carried out by researchers at the University of São Paulo in Brazil and Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland, relies on a different method.

What researchers Marco Andrade, Julio Adamowski, and Anne Bernassau have come up with is a means to levitate a 2-inch solid polystyrene sphere using ultrasonic acoustic waves pitched above the frequency a human can hear.


“The acoustic levitation of small objects is well known among researchers, and it can be achieved by producing an acoustic standing wave between a sound emitter and a reflector,” Andrade told Digital Trends. “If we insert an object much smaller than the wavelength in the acoustic field, there is a phenomenon, called acoustic radiation force, that attracts the small object to a pressure node of the standing wave. Therefore, a small object can be levitated at a pressure node of the standing wave.”

The breakthrough in this new work, however, comes through the generating of an “acoustic standing wave” between the sound emitters and the object. “By doing this, we can levitate objects much larger than the acoustic wavelength,” Andrade continued.

To carry out the ultrasound levitation, the researchers used a setup that relied on three ultrasonic transducers in a tripod formation positioned around the sphere — thereby providing greater 3D stability.

Explaining the advantage of acoustic levitation over magnetic levitation, Andrade said: “Usually, magnetic levitation is applied in the levitation of ferromagnetic materials, which restricts its applications to mainly metallic materials. One of the main advantages of acoustic levitation is that it is material independent. It is possible to levitate a wide range of materials using acoustic levitation, including liquid drops, metallic objects, and other materials.”

Emerging Tech

Google’s radar-sensing tech could make any object smart

Computer scientists have shown how Google’s Soli sensor can be used to make dumb objects smart. Here's why radar-powered computing could finally make the dream of smart homes a reality.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: camera with A.I. director, robot arm assistant

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!

Dell XPS 13 vs. Asus Zenbook 13: In battle of champions, who will be the victor?

The ZenBook 13 UX333 continues Asus's tradition of offering great budget-oriented 13-inch laptop offerings. Does this affordable machine offer enough value to compete with the excellent Dell XPS 13?
Smart Home

Speed up cooking with one of the best pressure cookers on the market

Not all pressure cookers are created equally. You have to choose between stovetop cookers, multicookers, canners, and even microwave cookers. Our pressure cooking buyer's guide includes our picks for the best in each category.
Emerging Tech

How long is a day on Saturn? Scientists finally have an answer

The length of Saturn's day has always been a challenge to calculate because of the planet's non-solid surface and magnetic field. But now scientists have tracked vibrations in the rings to pin down a final answer.
Emerging Tech

Tiny microbots fold like origami to travel through the human body

Tiny robots modeled after bacteria could be used to deliver drugs to hard to reach areas of the human body. Scientists have developed elastic microbots that can change their shape depending on their environment.
Emerging Tech

Dinosaurs never stood a chance after asteroid impacts doubled 290M years ago

The number of asteroids pummeling Earth jumped dramatically around 290 million years ago. By looking at Moon craters, scientists discovered that d the number of asteroid impacts on both Earth and the Moon increased by two to three times.
Emerging Tech

Saturn didn’t always have rings, according to new analysis of Cassini data

Saturn's rings are younger than previously believed, according to new data gathered from the Cassini mission. The rings are certainly less than 100 million years old and perhaps as young as 10 million years old.
Emerging Tech

Water-based fuel cell converts carbon emissions to electricity

Scientists from Korea's Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology have developed a system which can continuously produce electrical energy and hydrogen by dissolving carbon dioxide in an aqueous solution.
Emerging Tech

Scientists investigate how massive stars die in dramatic hypernova events

Our Sun will gradually fade before expanding into a red giant at the end of its life. But larger mass stars undergo extreme explosive events called hypernovas when they die which outshine their entire galaxies.
Emerging Tech

Pilotless planes are on their way, but would you fly in one?

Airbus says advancements in artificial intelligence can help it toward its goal of building a plane capable of fully autonomous flight, though whether passengers can be persuaded to travel in one is another matter entirely.
Emerging Tech

‘Tech vest’ prevents Amazon workers from colliding with robot co-workers

Amazon workers at its fulfillment centers are using "tech vests" to help protect them from collisions with their robot co-workers. The robots already have obstacle avoidance sensors, but the belt offers another layer of safety.
Emerging Tech

3D printers are finally affordable. Here are the best models under $500

3D printer prices have dropped dramatically over the past few years, but just because something is cheap doesn’t mean it’s worth buying. Here, we’ve rounded up all the cheap 3D printers that are actually worth spending your money on.

T-Mobile 5G rollout: Here is everything you need to know

2019 will be a huge year for T-Mobile. Not only is a merger with Sprint likely, but T-Mobile is also in the midst of building out its next-generation mobile service. Here's everything you need to know about the T-Mobile 5G rollout.