Controlling acoustic streaming in an ultrasonic heptagonal tweezers with application to cell manipulation

A. L. Bernassau*, P. Glynne-Jones, F. Gesellchen, M. Riehle, M. Hill, D. R. S. Cumming

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Citations (Scopus)
428 Downloads (Pure)


Acoustic radiation force has been demonstrated as a method for manipulating micron-scale particles, but is frequently affected by unwanted streaming. In this paper the streaming in a multi-transducer quasi-standing wave acoustic particle manipulation device is assessed, and found to be dominated by a form of Eckart streaming. The experimentally observed streaming takes the form of two main vortices that have their highest velocity in the region where the standing wave is established. A finite element model is developed that agrees well with experimental results, and shows that the Reynolds stresses that give rise to the fluid motion are strongest in the high velocity region. A technical solution to reduce the streaming is explored that entails the introduction of a biocompatible agar gel layer at the bottom of the chamber so as to reduce the fluid depth and volume. By this means, we reduce the region of fluid that experiences the Reynolds stresses; the viscous drag per unit volume of fluid is also increased. Particle Image Velocimetry data is used to observe the streaming as a function of agar-modified cavity depth. It was found that, in an optimised structure, Eckart streaming could be reduced to negligible levels so that we could make a sonotweezers device with a large working area of up to 13 mm x 13 mm.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)268-274
Number of pages7
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2014


  • Ultrasonic tweezers
  • Eckart streaming
  • Acoustic velocity
  • Particle trapping
  • Cell patterning
  • TRAP


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