Holographic Acoustic Elements for Manipulation of Levitated Objects

Asier Marzo, Sue Ann Seah, Bruce W Drinkwater, Deepak R Sahoo, Benjamin Long, Sriram Subramanian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

565 Citations (Scopus)
691 Downloads (Pure)


Sound can levitate objects of different sizes and materials through air, water and tissue. This allows us to manipulate cells, liquids, compounds or living things without touching or contaminating them. However, acoustic levitation has required the targets to be enclosed with acoustic elements or had limited manoeuvrability. Here we optimize the phases used to drive an ultrasonic phased array and show that acoustic levitation can be employed to translate, rotate and manipulate particles using even a single-sided emitter. Furthermore, we introduce the holographic acoustic elements framework that permits the rapid generation of traps and provides a bridge between optical and acoustical trapping. Acoustic structures shaped as tweezers, twisters or bottles emerge as the optimum mechanisms for tractor beams or containerless transportation. Single-beam levitation could manipulate particles inside our body for applications in targeted drug delivery or acoustically controlled micro-machines that do not interfere with magnetic resonance imaging.
Original languageEnglish
Article number8661
Number of pages7
JournalNature Communications
Publication statusPublished - 27 Oct 2015


  • Physical sciences
  • Optical physics
  • Applied physics


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