3B30.01 - Ultrasonic Levitator

Code Number:
Demo Title:
Ultrasonic Levitator
Acoustic Levitation
Area of Study:
Ultrasonic Transducer with Power Supply Circuit Board, Styrofoam Pellets, Screen "Spoon", Syringe and Water, and Height Gauge with Flat Plexiglas Reflector.

Power up the ultrasonic transducer and the fan that cools the circuit board.  Place the reflecting plate over the transducer and then place a single Styrofoam pellet in the center of the transducer.  Adjust the height of the reflecting plate until this pellet lifts off the transducer.  You should then be able to place a string of Styrofoam pellets or water drops into the ultrasonic standing wave that is produced.

Run this demonstration for only 5 minutes at a time as the transducer gets very hot when operating.

  • R. Scott Schappe, Cinthya Barbosa, "A Simple, Inexpensive Acoustic Levitation Apparatus", TPT, Vol. 55, #1, Jan. 2017, p. 6.
  • David P. Jackson, Ming-Hua Chang, "Acoustic Levitation and the Acoustic Radiation Force", AJP, Vol. 89, #4, April 2021, p. 383.
  • D. P. Jackson, M. -H. Chang, "Back Scatter - Visualizing Acoustic Levitation", Physics Today, Vol. 74, #7, July 2021, p. 64.
  • Steven K. Blau, "Sound Strategy for Levitating and Moving Particles", Physics Today, Vol. 68, #3, Mar. 2015, p. 17.
  • Jason Bardi, "Acoustic Levitation Made Simple", Applied Physics Letters, Jan. 2015.
  • Marco A. B. Andrade, Nicolás Pérez, and Julio C. Adamowski, "Particle Manipulation by a Non-Resonant Acoustic Levitator", Applied Physics Letters, Vol. 106, Jan. 2015, p. 014101.
  • Paul Noel, "Basic Acoustic Levitator Instruction Manual", AAPT Summer Meeting 2018.
  • Paul Noel, "Sonic Levitator, Apparatus Competition Booklet, AAPT Summer Meeting 2016, p. 34.

Disclaimer: These demonstrations are provided only for illustrative use by persons affiliated with The University of Iowa and only under the direction of a trained instructor or physicist.  The University of Iowa is not responsible for demonstrations performed by those using their own equipment or who choose to use this reference material for their own purpose.  The demonstrations included here are within the public domain and can be found in materials contained in libraries, bookstores, and through electronic sources.  Performing all or any portion of any of these demonstrations, with or without revisions not depicted here entails inherent risks.  These risks include, without limitation, bodily injury (and possibly death), including risks to health that may be temporary or permanent and that may exacerbate a pre-existing medical condition; and property loss or damage.  Anyone performing any part of these demonstrations, even with revisions, knowingly and voluntarily assumes all risks associated with them.