Researchers Develop Watchmaker's Sonic Screwdrivers

Researchers at University of Bristol and Northwestern Polytechnical University have developed tiny sonic screwdrivers that can grip and spin microscopic particles when suspended in water. The research team led by Bruce Drinkwater, Professor of Ultrasonics in the Department of Mechanical Engineering of University of Bristol andDr ZhenYu Hong in Department of Applied Physics at Northwestern Polytechnical University in China published their research in Physical Review Letters in which they have shown that they created acoustic vortices that behave as tornados of sound and are capable of spinning microscopic particles in water. These vortices were named as 'Watchmaker's sonic screwdriver'.
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For creating these screwdrivers, the engineers used tiny ultra-sonic loudspeakers that were arranged in a circular manner to create vortex of acoustic waves. Then water was poured into the mixture of small microparticles (less than 1micron) and spun about the vortex core. However, in presence of large microparticles (household flour), some of the particles were rotated at higher speeds whereas some got stuck in a series of circular rings because of acoustic radiation forces. Initially, large particles were used to prove that they could carry rotational momentum.

According to Prof. Drinkwater, these vortices can have many prospective applications in the field of science, such as improvement of microscopic centrifuges for biological cell sorting and water purification technique. The research can cause breakthrough in the field of acoustics, if screwdrivers are deployed in the work purification plants. What do you think about 'Watchmaker's sonic screwdriver. 

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