The National Physical Laboratory (NPL) has developed the first sensor capable of measuring localized ultrasonic cavitation – the implosion of bubbles in a liquid when a high frequency sound wave is applied.
The sensor will help hospitals ensure that their instruments are properly disinfected before they are used on patients. The device recently won the annual Outstanding Ultrasonics Product award from the Ultrasonic Industry Association.
Cavitation is used throughout the NHS by doctors and dentists to clean and disinfect surgical instruments. A high frequency sound wave is passed through a disinfecting liquid to create bubbles that implode. The force of each implosion removes contaminate particles from surrounding materials. Cavitation is one of the most effective cleaning processes. There are more than 200 000 places in a teaspoon of tap water where a bubble can emerge and implode, and the process is self-stimulating because the implosion of one bubble creates new sites for further bubbles to emerge. Until now there has been no accurate method of identifying how much cavitation takes place at different locations in a cleaning system, and therefore no measureable way to ensure the cleaning process is effective. The new sensor also means that technicians can fine-tune and optimise equipment so that only the energy required is used, reducing costs and environmental impact.
Previously the only way to measure cavitation rates has been to lower a piece of aluminium foil into the liquid and count the number of 'dents' caused by bubble implosion. NPL's new sensor takes a different approach by monitoring the acoustic signals generated when the bubbles implode. It listens to the bubbles as they collapse and uses the sound to identify how much cavitation is taking place at a given location.
"To spark cavitation we use ultrasonics to 'shout' at a liquid. Our sensor then listens to the response and tells us how much cavitation is taking place as a result of using that particular stimulus," explains Mark Hodnett, a Senior Research Scientist at NPL. "Cavitation is a powerful process but until now users have had no way to measure exactly how loud to shout in order to get a useful amount of bubbles, nor been able to quantify how energetic those bubbles are. They've previously had to rely on trial and error. This is dangerous when you are dealing with cleanliness in medical environments, and a waste of energy. The NPL sensor provides a new tool for improving cleaning systems and aiding instrument hygiene."
Sonic Systems has purchased one of NPL's sensors and say that it fills an important gap in the market. "There is nothing else like the NPL sensor available to sonic equipment manufacturers. We use it as part of our product development process. It has enabled us to verify the cavitation fields inside some of our more complex systems. This has given us the confidence to confirm to customers that our equipment is truly optimised."
National Physical Laboratory
The National Physical Laboratory (NPL) is one of the UK's leading science facilities and research centres. It is a world-leading centre of excellence in developing and applying the most accurate standards, science and technology available.
NPL occupies a unique position as the UK's National Measurement Institute and sits at the intersection between scientific discovery and real world application. Its expertise and original research have underpinned quality of life, innovation and competitiveness for UK citizens and business for more than a century:NPL provides companies with access to world leading support and technical expertise, inspiring the absolute confidence required to realise competitive advantage from new materials, techniques and technologies
NPL expertise and services are crucial in a wide range of social applications - helping to save lives, protect the environment and enable citizens to feel safe and secure. Support in areas such as the development of advanced medical treatments and environmental monitoring helps secure a better quality of life for all
NPL develops and maintains the nation's primary measurement standards, supporting an infrastructure of traceable measurement throughout the UK and the world, to ensure accuracy and consistency.
Richard Moss | EurekAlert!
Study offers new theoretical approach to describing non-equilibrium phase transitions
27.04.2017 | DOE/Argonne National Laboratory
SwRI-led team discovers lull in Mars' giant impact history
26.04.2017 | Southwest Research Institute
More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.
Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...
Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.
"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
28.04.2017 | Event News
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering
28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences
28.04.2017 | Life Sciences