Watch Sodium and Water Levitate and Collide
Engineers manipulate sound frequencies to control particle movement.
But besides feeding a caffeine addiction for Lilliputians, the ability to acoustically control different matter in the air has other practical applications—like creating drugs or manufacturing materials. This new research highlights the potential of acoustic manipulation, a process physicists have been working with for at least 30 years. (Related: "Acoustic "Invisibility" Cloaks Possible, Study Says.")
Using sound waves is not the first or only form of levitation—magnetic fields can similarly force an object into the air. But this only works for magnetic materials.
Acoustic manipulation—the ability to levitate, translate, rotate, or vibrate substances with sound—permits researchers to handle an array of small particles such as DNA, toothpicks, or water droplets. It is also useful for moving matter without fear of contamination.