28 Sep Using sound waves to levitate objects
Think levitation is only a magician’s trick?
Although you may not have learned this in your high school science class, the ability to make tiny particles float in the air is possible.
The ability to rise in the air through the power of sound, also known as acoustic levitation, is not new. Scientists have been performing this act since the 1940s. However, a group of Japanese researchers have recently mastered three-dimensional levitation, making it possible to float an object up and down and side to side. You can see the levitation in action in the video above, which also provides a great tutorial on the science behind it.
Scientists discovered that if they perfectly align ultrasonic sound speakers they can create sound waves that exert pressure. This pressure cancels out the effects of gravity. They can make the particles move in different directions by changing the strength of the sound waves. Fortunately for scientists, the sounds waves are slightly above the normal human hearing range, which is beneficial in applying this discovery to the real world. Unfortunately for musicians, we are unlikely to replicate levitation through our own music making.
The advancement of 3D acoustic levitation provides many benefits beyond creating an intriguing YouTube video. Acoustic levitation could help scientists keep chemical mixtures pure in stem cell research and advance antigravity experiments in space.