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by Mike Zazaian December 1, 2006 - 1:44pm, 4 Comments

A goldfish suspended in the sonic levitation device

Researchers at the Northwestern Polytechnical University in Xi’an, China have developed a device that uses sound waves to levitate objects and small animals. Needless to say there has been substantial unrest in the Chinese cockroach community.

Wenjun Xie and his team of colleagues used ultrasonic fields in their testing to keep a myriad of small animals in levitational stasis. Scientists were able to successfully levitate beetles, ants, spiders, ladybugs, tadpoles and fish between the sound wave emitter and reflector that comprise the device. While the ants, ladybugs and other insects were successfully levitated for over 30 minutes apiece without harm, the fish used in the experiment perished despite the scientists’ attempts to add water to the field with a syringe.

While the team has tested the levitation equipment on small quantities of mercury and iridium, the heaviest known liquid and solid respectively, this is the first time it has been used to levitate living creatures. The initial aim of the project was to devise a way to levitate hazardous materials that could corrode containers or for whatever reason aren’t conducive to storage. And while the successful levitation of hazardous materials could prove useful for the production of pharmaceuticals and other industries that involve volatile substances, Xie says that the levitation of animals could open up a whole new realm of possibilities for such technology:

Our results may provide some methods or ideas for biology research. We have tried to hatch eggs of fish [during] acoustic levitation.

Results for the study were published in the online periodical Applied Physics Letters on November 20th.

Via LiveScience.com