Ultrasonic waves have many incredible applications across a wide variety of industries, ranging from medical science to manufacturing. Not least among these is ultrasonic cleaning, which uses ultrasonic sound waves traveling through liquid to produce cavitation bubbles that clean more thoroughly than solvents and scrubbing alone.
Ultrasonic waves can’t be heard by humans, though some animals, such as bats, can hear them. Their effects on materials and their abilities may look like magic, but they’re pure science. Unlike normal ways of making sound, which often involve striking a surface, ultrasound is made using electrical equipment that vibrates with an extremely high frequency. Crystals of materials such as quartz vibrate very fast when electricity is passed through them—an effect called “piezoelectricity.” As they vibrate, they manipulate the air around them and the fluids they come in contact with, producing ultrasound waves. Devices that produce ultrasound waves using piezoelectricity are known as piezoelectric transducers. [Read more…]