University of Bath and Bristol researchers help create invisible "ultrasonic hands"

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Written by:   | Posted 14-May-2014 10:24

University of Bath and Bristol researchers help create invisible

Researchers from the University of Bath have helped create a pair of invisible “ultrasonic hands” which can move tiny objects, such as cells, under a microscope.

The team from Bath, along with colleagues at the universities in Bristol and Dundee, have discovered for the first time that ultrasonic waves can be used to grab several microparticles at a time.

Using tiny plastic spheres the size of biological cells, they found that objects could be moved along independent paths and then carefully brought together.

This knowledge could help biologists or medics perform a variety of delicate tasks such as sorting or assembling cells into patterns for tissue engineering, stem cell work and regenerative medicine.

Bath researcher Dr Charles Courtney said: “We have shown that sophisticated microparticle manipulation is possible using a relatively simple desktop apparatus that can be used with a standard microscope system.

“We believe this has the potential to radically improve results in bioscience labs where pinpoint positioning of cells is a useful research tool.”

Professor Bruce Drinkwater, from the University of Bristol, added: “It is currently a big challenge to move tiny things like cells around under a microscope.

“Our ultrasonic hands can grip and move micoscopic cells without damaging them. There are a huge number of applications for this technology.”

The researchers from the University of Bath’s department of mechanical engineering worked in collaboration with the University of Bristol’s department of mechanical engineering and the University of Dundee’s Institute for Medical Science and Technology, and recently published their findings in Applied Physics Letters.


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