Phased Array Levitation Is Science In Action

Ultrasonic levitation rig.

Levitation may seem like magic. However, for certain objects, and in certain conditions, it’s actually a solved technology. If you want to move small particles around or do experiments with ultrasonic haptic feedback, you might find SonicSurface to be a useful platform for experimentation.

The build comes to us from [UpnaLab], and is no small feat of engineering. It packs in 256 ultrasonic emitters in a 16×16 grid, with individual phase control across the entire panel. This allows for the generation of complex ultrasonic wave fields over the SonicSurface board. Two boards can be paired together in a vertically opposed configuration, too. This allows the levitation of tiny particles in 3D space.

As you might expect, an FPGA is pressed into service to handle the heavy lifting – in this case, an Altera CoreEP4CE6. Commands are sent to the SonicSurface by a USB-to-serial connection from an attached PC.

The board is largely limited to the levitation of small spherical pieces of foam, with the ultrasonic field levitating them in midair. However, the project video shows how these tiny pieces of foam can be attached to threads, tapes, and other objects in order to manipulate them with the ultrasonic array.

It may not be a simple project, but it serves as a great basis for your own levitation experiments. Of course, if you want to start smaller, that’s fine too. If you come up with any great levitation breakthroughs of your own, be sure to let us know.

8 thoughts on “Phased Array Levitation Is Science In Action

  1. Every time I see something like this I wonder if it can be applied to deal with mosquito’s. They are very light and really not great flyers at all. You wait and listen for the buzz, triangulate the position and when it’s within range you trap it and guide it to a zapper/trap/exit or make a focal point where you can ultrasonically obliterate them. Combine this with a lure (lamp?) and it’s ready. With this level of processing power available you can probably even discern between species of insects and only kill the human hunters.

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