Acoustic levitation breakthrough after scientists create self-correcting levitation device

floating bunny

It is not easy to make a levitation device that can withstand breakdowns. Image Credit: Scientific Progress (2022). DOI: 10.1126/sciaadv.abn7614

The idea has been suggested before to use sound waves to make objects float. Research confirmed it, but as you might expect, this requires a direct path of waves to the object – interrupt them by putting something in the way and things go downhill fast. Now scientists have found a way to make the objects levitate even when the path is interrupted by other objects, marking a huge advance in our sci-fi dreams of levitation.

In fact, you can check it all out in a video created by the researchers.

Their results were published in the magazine scientific progress

Using 3D levitation, scientists can create incredible screens that can be touched and experienced without an augmented reality headset, but the problem of interference needs to be addressed before that becomes possible. The interference from a physical object can interrupt the intricate field of acoustic waves needed to make an object levitate, and this probably wouldn’t go well with the audience watching the screen.

As such, these ultrasonic levitation screens must currently exist in extremely controlled spaces, away from potential disturbances.

In an effort to enable levitation displays for public spaces such as arcades and shopping malls, researchers at University College London have developed a system of multiple speakers that can be adjusted and turned on or off to account for fluctuations in the levitation field, where the floating object should be allowed to stand in the way.

“Until now, we have only been able to demonstrate acoustic levitation for virtual reality and holograms in controlled environments without other objects nearby that could interrupt and scatter sound waves. In this article, we showed how we can levitate objects and even create digital content such as holograms in real environments by considering nearby objects in real time,” said lead author Dr. Ryuji Hirayama in a pronunciation

“It opens up the possibilities for fully immersive virtual reality experiences and interactive holograms.”

The research may not only have implications for creating beautiful displays. Accurately floating objects can be a huge step in 3D printing and manufacturing, with a floating object that can be reacted to from all sides. In this way, cross-contamination of materials can be prevented and precise applications of print material can be applied.

“I am excited about how this work opens the door to mixing many different materials in additive manufacturing and 3D printing. Acoustic levitation has enormous potential in precision manufacturing and this work paves the way for realizing this opportunity,” said lead researcher Sri Subramanian.

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