New ultrasound allowed us to hear the movement of bacteria

The existence of ultrasound has long been known. For decades, technology has helped submarines to navigate in space, and that the doctors can see patients without surgical intervention. In modern ultrasound machines have capacity limitations, but researchers from the University of Queensland have figured out how to increase their force almost a hundred times. They claim that the new device is able to capture the sound of the movement of air molecules and even the vibration of individual cells.


Usually ultrasonic devices consist of an emitter and receiver made of piezoelectric crystals. When they are effect of electric current, they vibrate and create high frequency sounds above 20,000 Hz — it is known that they are not perceived by the human ear. The emitted sound waves pass through air, water, and soft fabrics, and hard surfaces bounce at different speeds. When they return to crystals, the process is reversed — the vibrations create an electrical current that allows your computer to recognize the shape of the object, which bounced waves. Thus, for example, you can see the fetus in the womb.

To increase the power of the device, the researchers used a different design: the receiver consists of tiny quartz disk with a width of 148 microns and a thickness of 1.8 microns. Behind him is a laser that instantly reads the smallest distortion in the disk caused by reflected sound waves. Increased sensitivity allows you to obtain more detailed information and even hear the moving bacteria.

The technology is based on the new capabilities that we have developed using laser light to measure mechanical motion at the nanoscale, at the level attometer (a thousandth of the width of an atomic nucleus). This opportunity was developed for the implementation of new quantum technologies — here we use it instead of ultrasonic sensing. The ultrasound wave causes mechanical vibrations of microscale structures on a silicon chip, which we then read with a laser light.

Warwick Bowen, the author of the study

Technology can be used to listen to the individual cells and bacteria. Thanks to her, researchers can learn not only whether the cells are alive, but they are normal or cancerous. They will also be able to learn more about processes occurring inside and monitor the movement of bacteria. The use of technology in the technique can improve the accuracy of underwater vehicle and improve medical equipment.

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0 Comments on “New ultrasound allowed us to hear the movement of bacteria”

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