Researchers in the UK have developed a means to coax microscopic particles and droplets into exact patterns by harnessing the energy of sound in air. The implications for printing, particularly in the fields of drugs and electronics, are far-reaching.
The scientists from the Universities of Bath and Bristol have proven that it is doable to create exact, pre-determined patterns on surfaces from aerosol droplets or particles, utilizing computer-controlled ultrasound. A paper describing the completely new approach, known as ‘sonolithography’, is printed in Advanced Materials Technologies.
Professor Mike Fraser from the Department of Computer Science at the University of Bath, defined: “The power of ultrasound has already been shown to levitate small particles. We are excited to have hugely expanded the range of applications by patterning dense clouds of material in air at scale and being able to algorithmically control how the material settles into shapes.”
The researchers imagine their work may revolutionize printing, bettering the pace, value, and precision of non-contact patterning strategies in air. Their work already reveals the potential of sonolithography for biofabrication.
Dr. Jenna Shapiro, analysis affiliate in the School of Cellular and Molecular Medicine at the University of Bristol and lead writer of the article, mentioned: “Sonolithography enables gentle, non-contact and rapid patterning of cells and biomaterials on surfaces. Tissue engineering can use biofabrication methods to build defined structures of cells and materials. We are adding a new technique to the biofabrication toolbox.”
Professor Bruce Drinkwater, professor of Ultrasonics in Bristol’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, added: “The objects we are manipulating are the size of water drops in clouds. It’s incredibly exciting to be able to move such small things with such fine control. This could allow us to direct aerosol sprays with unheard of precision, with applications such as drug delivery or wound healing.”
Beyond its purposes in biomedicine, the group has proven the approach to be relevant to a range of supplies. Printed electronics is one other space the group is eager to develop, with sonolithography getting used to organize conductive inks into circuits and elements.
Researchers develop low-cost, drop-on-demand printing approach
Jenna M. Shapiro et al, Sonolithography: In‐Air Ultrasonic Particulate and Droplet Manipulation for Multiscale Surface Patterning, Advanced Materials Technologies (2020). DOI: 10.1002/admt.202000689
Life’s wealthy sample: Researchers use sound to shape the future of printing (2021, March 5)
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