Science & Technology

Levitation That’s No Trick: Scientists to Perform “Touchless” Chemical Reactions

Levitating Droplets Chemical Reaction

Levitation has lengthy been a staple of magic methods and films. However within the lab, it’s no trick. Scientists can levitate droplets of liquid, although mixing them and observing the reactions has been difficult. The pay-off, nevertheless, might be massive as it might permit researchers to conduct contact-free experiments with out containers or dealing with that may have an effect on the end result. Now, a group reporting in ACS’ Analytical Chemistry has developed a way to just do that.

Scientists have made units to levitate small objects, however most strategies require the item to have sure bodily properties, reminiscent of electrical cost or magnetism. In distinction, acoustic levitation, which makes use of sound waves to droop an object in a gasoline, doesn’t depend on such properties. But current units for acoustic levitation and mixing of single particles or droplets are complicated, and it’s tough to receive measurements from them as a chemical response is going on. Stephen Brotton and Ralf Kaiser needed to develop a flexible approach for the contactless management of two chemically distinct droplets, with a set of probes to comply with the response because the droplets merge.

Levitating droplets of acidic and fundamental options (left) merge into a bigger droplet (proper), wherein carbon dioxide bubbles kind as a product of the response. Credit score: Analytical Chemistry 2020, DOI: 10.1021/acs.analchem.0c00929

The group made an acoustic levitator and suspended two droplets in it, one above the opposite. Then, they made the higher droplet oscillate by various the amplitude of the sound wave. The oscillating higher droplet merged with the decrease droplet, and the ensuing chemical response was monitored with infrared, Raman and ultraviolet-visible spectroscopies. The researchers examined the approach by combining completely different droplets. In a single experiment, for instance, they merged an ionic liquid with nitric acid, inflicting a tiny explosion. The brand new levitation technique may assist scientists research many various kinds of chemical reactions in areas reminiscent of materials sciences, medicinal chemistry and planetary science, the researchers say.


Reference: “Managed Chemistry through Contactless Manipulation and Merging of Droplets in an Acoustic Levitator” by Stephen J. Brotton and Ralf I. Kaiser, 1 June 2020, Analytical Chemistry.
DOI: 10.1021/acs.analchem.0c00929

The authors acknowledge funding from the Workplace of Naval Analysis.

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