Acoustic levitation controlled by an array of ultrasonic transducers


The goal of this project is to design and build a device for acoustic levitation. An array of ultrasonic transducers would be used to levitate a small polystyrene bead and possibly to steer it along a defined path. As an inspiration may serve the work of Asier Marzo et al. presented in a nice video and the related paper (accessible from university network or via, but also many more similar projects.

The motivation for this particular project comes from one of the research topics that is developed by the group - distributed non-contact manipulation. An array of separate actuators is used so that they jointly exert a desired force on an object of interest. This way the object can be moved to a set position or made to follow some defined trajectory. Currently, we use microelectrodes or coils as these actuators, which allow us to shape an electric, respectively magnetic fields in the manipulation area. Thus we can control also the related force fields (dielectrophoretic, resp. magnetic). For more information about these two projects, you may wish to look at their respective pages (dielectrophoresis, magnetic manipulation).

The field of acoustic levitation (acoustophoresis) might be another visually appealing physical principle of manipulation, which could serve us for development and demonstration of optimization based control algorithms for such distributed system.

The project involves:

  • mathematical modeling - create a control-oriented model of the system
  • control design - optimization based control
  • electronic design - creating a driving circuitry (possibility to use existing prototyping boards like Arduino, etc.)
  • mechanical design - making a frame enabling assembly of the transducer array
  • experiments with the assembled setup (hopefully show the levitation of the bead)

In order to get some deeper idea about the project, have a look at the above mentioned paper and a tutorial (by the same author) at, which describes the construction of a simple acoustic levitator. These are, however, not the only available resources. Inspiration may be gained from many more similar projects (e.g. JOLED: A Mid-air Display based on Electrostatic Rotation of Levitated Janus Objects).

The collaboration should take place mainly during summer by means of a paid student internship, but it could start already during the preceding semester in the form of familiarization with the topic by studying existing published solutions, identifying key problems and planning the course of work. There is also a possibility (in a case of successful collaboration) to continue on the project during the next academic year in a form of individual project or formal final undergraduate (thesis) project.

Only enthusiastic students, who feel that they would enjoy working on such a project, are encouraged to apply for the position since this shows up as a basic prerequisite for successful collaboration. In case of any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Contact person: 
Tomáš Michálek