New 3D-Printed Sound Levitator Available for Home Use

The TinyLev system is composed of the driver board and the single-axis levitator with 72 transducers (arranged as two surfaces, each containing 36 transducers); expanded polystyrene (EPS) particles are trapped at its nodes. Image credit: Marzo et al, doi: 10.1063/1.4989995.

Do you ever feel lighter when listening to an uplifting song?
Well, now you can take your music appreciation to a whole new level -- literally! Researchers built a sound machine that floats object in mid-air. 

A team at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom designed and 3D-printed a small device that holds tiny items in space within the interference pattern of sound waves in opposing directions.

They call it the TinyLev.

“Acoustic levitation uses powerful acoustic waves to push particles from all directions and traps them in mid-air,” explained team leader Dr. Asier Marzo and colleagues.

It's cheap to make, safe to use, durable, weather resistant, and energy efficient. 

By using ultrasound, it is possible to use powerful vibrations without causing any harm to humans.

Such a device can be developed into larger machines and used for things even cooler than floating drops of water. I can imagine lines of these pushing cargo along a channel or perhaps even a small handheld device that can float construction materials.

Initially, this small device is immediately helpful for medical and scientific analysis because it can suspend study samples free from obstructions for instruments to see clearer. 

“Acoustic levitation has been explored in hundreds of studies for applications in pharmaceuticals, biology or biomaterials. It holds the promise of supporting innovative and ground-breaking processes,” said Dr. Marzo, lead author of the paper published in the journal Review of Scientific Instruments.

These researchers also put together a how-to instruction manual for do-it-yourselfers to build on their own. Well, it's a bit technical so you may need to study up a bit before you can start making one for each of your friends. 


Asier Marzo et al. 2017. TinyLev: A multi-emitter single-axis acoustic levitator. Review of Scientific Instruments 88: 085105; doi: 10.1063/1.4989995