Attention Makers


TinyLev: DIY acoustic levitator for improved diagnosis and micro-gravity studies

MAKERS: Asier COUNTRY: United Kingdom

Holding substances in mid-air is the key to understand organisms in micro-gravity, better blood analysis and new forms of chemistry. With TinyLev, acoustic levitation becomes available to everyone.


The Purpose

Acoustic levitation has been explored in hundreds of studies in pharmaceuticals and biology. It holds the promise of supporting novel processes. However, historically levitators have been restricted to few research labs because they needed to be custom-made, carefully tuned and required high-voltage. TinyLev is an acoustic levitator that can be assembled by everyone using off-the-shelf components from the internet. Not only scientists but also students can build their own levitator at home or school to experiment and try new applications of acoustic levitation. Perhaps, it could become a common science demonstration like a slinky or Chladni plates.

The Technology

Acoustic levitation uses powerful waves to push particles from all directions and trap them in mid-air. By using ultrasound it is possible to use powerful vibrations without causing any harm to humans. Instead of using an ultra-powerful sound emitter, we use 72 simple emitters. This is analogous to the translation from a single powerful lamp to arrays of LEDs that is now seen in traffic lights or spotlights to make devices durable and inexpensive. A standing wave is created between the two sides of the levitator and objects can be trapped at its nodes (low-amplitude regions) due to radiation forces.

Additional Details

TinyLev works with low-voltage (10V) and does not require any tuning, it works straightaway since the moment that is switched on. Our levitator can also operate for prolonged periods of time enabling novel experiments like germinating a levitating seed or studying the evolution of a zebrafish from embryo to adult. These experiments could provide insights on the viability of cultivating plants or human reproduction in zero-gravity.

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