DIY Ultrasonic acoustic levitation

[Mike] saw a few videos of ultrasonic acoustic levitation rigs put together by student researchers. Figuring it couldn’t be that hard to replicate, he set out and built his own using surplus parts and whatever was sitting around his parts drawer.

The build began with a huge ultrasonic transducer from an old ultrasonic cleaning tank [Mike] picked up on eBay for $20 £20. He didn’t pick up the standard driver board, as those don’t have a very clean output – something desperately needed if you’re setting up a standing wave. He did manage to put a simple supply together with a 555 timer, a MOSFET and a 12 V transformer connected backwards, though.

The test rig is pretty simple – just the transducer sitting on a table with an aluminum plate sitting above it on threaded rods. By adjusting the distance between the transducer to the aluminum plate, [Mike] managed to set up some standing waves he was able to suspend small Styrofoam balls in. It’s not quite precise enough to levitate small chunks of sodium and water, but it makes for an excellent science fair-type project.

22 thoughts on “DIY Ultrasonic acoustic levitation

    1. Ha! Nice one. But I’m fairly certain that ultrasonic levitation is sometimes used as a tool in chemistry experiments. Not being a chemist or chemical engineer myself I’m counting on some knowledgeable readers to back me up on this one.

      1. The writeup itself provides the example you’re looking for – observing the reaction of acoustically levitated sodium and water. An example of this reaction:

        Though the build isn’t (yet) capable of this, filing it under chemistry hacks isn’t too much of a stretch.

  1. Hello !
    You are a group of french students interested in your acoustic levitation experiment. We are looking forward to recreating this experiment in the context of our scientific studies. Would it be possible to have more informatinos about the way you carried it out ?
    Thank you very much !

  2. Hello, my 12 y.o. daughter, too, is very interested in trying to recreate this project for her school’s science fair. She is fascinated with acoustic levitation learning about it on the History channel this weekend. Thank you for any tips you may be able to provide, namely specific supplies you used. Thank you!!!

  3. Could you possibly send or post a slightly more detailed explanation of the circuit, with amperage and other details so we might recreate it more easily? Would greatly appreciate it.

  4. One little trick is that.. you could put the transducer upside down and place a balance under it. When there is a standing forming in the space between the transducer and balance, you would see a local maximal mass reading.

    1. Standing waves are created when the antinode of the wave rests on the endpoint of the thing it’s bouncing off of. In this case, the aluminum disk. From his video, it appears that there is a node every centimeter or so, so if you move the platform around within a centimeter, you should get an antinode resting on the disk. It’s just kinda guess and check

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