Australians Researchers Are Using High Frequency Sound For Nano-Manufacturing

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Australian researchers have harnessed the power of sound waves to enable precision micro- and nano-manufacturing.

They found that high-frequency sound waves can be used to precisely control the spread of a thin film of fluid along a chip.

The technique could offer significant advances in thin film coatings for applications ranging from paint manufacturing and wound care to 3D printing and micro-casting.

RMIT researchers announced what they called a breakthrough in a paper published in Proceedings of the Royal Society.

James Friend, Director of the MicroNano Research Facility at RMIT, said the technique allows for precise, fast and unconventional micro- and nano-fabrication.

“By tuning the sound waves, we can create any pattern we want on the surface of a microchip,” Professor Friend said.

“Manufacturing using thin film technology currently lacks precision – structures are physically spun around to disperse the liquid and coat components with thin film.

“We’ve found that thin film liquid either flows towards or away from high-frequency sound waves, depending on its thickness.”

The new process, which the researchers have called acoustowetting, works on a chip made of lithium niobate, a material capable of converting electrical energy into mechanical pressure.

The surface of the chip is covered with microelectrodes and the chip is connected to a power source, with the power converted to high-frequency sound waves.

Thin film liquid is added to the surface of the chip, and the sound waves are then used to control its flow.

When the liquid is ultra-thin, at nano and sub-micro depths, it flows away from the high-frequency sound waves.

The flow reverses at slightly thicker dimensions, moving towards the sound waves. But at a millimetre or more in depth, the flow reverses again, moving away.

This clip explains the process

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