UK researchers have created a world-first ultrasound levitation that can bend around obstacles and levitate small objects.
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Researchers at the University of Sussex, UK, have developed SoundBender, the world’s first technology that can bend sound waves and levitate objects. The interface – created by Professor Sriram Subramaniam, Dr Gianluca Memoli and Dr Diego Martinez Plasencia – produces self-bending beams. These beams can levitate small objects and also provide tactile feedback around an obstacle.
Previous ultrasound levitation experiments have been unsuccessful in creating a sound field that is capable of avoiding obstacles positioned between the levitating object and the transducers. To overcome this challenge, the researchers developed a hybrid system. Unlike electric and magnetic levitation techniques, ultrasound levitation does not require any specific physical properties. This means that it can be applied to a large variety of materials, including food and liquids. Furthermore, the hybrid system has potential for entertaining and educational applications. This includes museum displays, enhanced board games and controlling the flow of desired smells from a diffuser.
Having made a breakthrough in ultrasound levitation, the researchers are now looking to develop the device. Their future plans include bending beams around moving obstacles and larger objects. In addition, they are planning to make the device broadband. This would enable it to work for all sound frequencies.
At Springwise we have featured many innovations that use sound waves. For example, a company in Ukraine has designed a helmet that reflects external sound waves, creating a noise cancelling experience for the wearer. Another example is a car audio system by a German company which uses the car’s interior surfaces as speakers.