Engineers at the University of Bristol in the UK have developed a guide on how to build a levitation chamber. The research published in the Review of Scientific Instruments provides "instructions and a part list" on "how to assemble the levitator."
Apart from general excitement, levitation offers scientific benefits. According to Dr. Asier Mazo, one of the co-authors of the paper and a researcher at Bristol University, it helps with improved diagnosis of blood samples and accuracy in measurements.
"Levitating samples in mid-air can improve diagnosis from blood samples and detection of the structure of molecules. Usually a sample on a microscope slide is illuminated with x-rays, lasers or another type of radiation so the reflected radiation can be analyzed. However, no matter how transparent the microscope slide is, it will always interfere with the test. On the contrary, if the sample is levitated, all the reflections are going to be from the sample," Dr. Mazo said in a recent interview.
So how do you assemble a levitator in the comfort of your own home?
According to the engineers you would need a 3D printer, commercial ultrasonic transducers, amplifier circuits, a 20v supply and a microcontroller kit, also known as an Arduino board. The machine is supposed to emit 40kHz waves on a single axis.
They have called it a TinyLev, a multi-emitter single-axis acoustic levitator.
Transducers sit in 3D-printed sockets and convert electrical energy into acoustic waves. The current is controlled via the motor driver amplifier which is attached to the Arduino board. The acoustic waves from the top and bottom of the levitator push the particles in both directions, and trap small objects with a density greater than 2.2 grams per centimeter cubed and 4mm in diameter.
"Acoustic levitation has been explored in hundreds of studies for applications in pharmaceuticals, biology or biomaterials," Dr. Mazo said.
"However, historically levitators have been restricted to a small number of research labs because they needed to be custom-made, carefully tuned and required high-voltage. Now, not only scientists but also students can build their own levitator at home or school to experiment and try new applications of acoustic levitation," he added.