Multi-frequency Ultrasound Directed Self-assembly

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Virginia Tech

Ultrasound directed self-assembly (DSA) relies on the acoustic radiation force associated with a standing ultrasound wave to organize particles dispersed in a fluid medium into specific patterns. State-of-the-art ultrasound DSA methods can only organize particles into (quasi-)periodic patterns, limited by the use of single-frequency ultrasound wave fields. Acoustic holography and acoustic waveguides provide alternatives to assembling complex patterns of particles, but generally provide low spatial accuracy and are not re-configurable because they require custom hardware for each specific pattern of particles, which is impractical. We introduce multi-frequency ultrasound wave fields to organize particles in non-periodic patterns. We theoretically derive and experimentally validate a solution methodology to determine the operating parameters (frequency, amplitude, phase) of any number and spatial arrangement of ultrasound transducers, required to assemble spherical particles dispersed in an inviscid fluid medium into any specific two-dimensional pattern. The results show that multi-frequency ultrasound DSA enables the assembly of complex, non-periodic patterns of particles with substantially fewer ultrasound transducers than single-frequency ultrasound DSA, and without incurring a penalty in terms of accuracy. The results of this work fundamentally transform the state-of-the-art knowledge of ultrasound DSA. Multi-frequency ultrasound wave fields enable a near-unlimited complexity of patterns of particles that can be assembled, increasing the relevance of the technology to practical implementation in engineering applications such as manufacturing of engineered composite materials that derive their properties from the spatial organization of the filler in the matrix material. Although this work focuses specifically on ultrasound wave fields, the theoretical model is valid for all wave phenomena.

External field directed self-assembly, ultrasound directed self-assembly, multi-frequency wave field, engineered composite materials, manufacturing