New ultrasound allowed to hear the movements of bacteria

The existence of ultrasound has been known for a long time. For decades, technology has helped submarines navigate in space, and doctors - to examine patients without surgery. Modern ultrasound devices have power limitations, but researchers from the University of Queensland have figured out how to increase their power almost a hundred times. They claim that the new device is able to catch the sound of the movement of air molecules and even the vibrations of individual cells.

Usually ultrasound devices consist ofreceiver and emitter made from piezoelectric crystals. When an electric current acts on them, they vibrate and create high-frequency sounds above 20,000 hertz - as you know, they are not perceived by the human ear. Radiated sound waves pass through the air, water, and soft tissue, and bounce off hard surfaces at different speeds. When they return to the crystals, the reverse occurs - the vibrations create an electrical current that allows the computer to recognize the shape of the object from which the waves have pushed. Thus, for example, you can see the embryo in the womb.

To increase the power of the device, researchersused another design: the receiver consists of a tiny quartz disk with a width of 148 microns and a thickness of 1.8 microns. Behind it is a laser that instantly reads the smallest distortion on the disk caused by reflected sound waves. Increased sensitivity allows you to get more detailed information and even hear how bacteria move.

The technology is based on a new opportunity thatwe have developed using laser light to measure mechanical movement at the nanoscale, at the level of attometers (one thousandth of the width of the atomic nucleus). This feature was designed to implement new quantum technologies - here we use it instead of ultrasonic sounding. An ultrasonic wave causes mechanical oscillations of a microscale structure on a silicon chip, which we then read with laser light.

Warwick Bowen, study author

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

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