Philippe Marmottant has been awarded a grant from the European Research Council (ERC) to pursue his “BubbleBoost” research program about the effects of ultrasounds in confined microsystems.
Philippe Marmottant and his colleagues from the Interdisciplinary Laboratory of Physics have designed a specific micro-fluidic setup with a flow-focusing section dedicated to the production of calibrated micro-bubbles (~10 to 100 µm in diameter).
In recent experiments, they observed that when submitted to ultrasound waves, these micro bubbles showed a synchronised resonating vibration (see photo or follow this link to see a video), causing the amplification of acoustic-wave energy in the media. Leveraging this fundamental mechanical phenomenon, Philippe Marmottant has proposed a 5 years research program and received a grant of more than € 1.8 million to develop two main applications of ultrasounds in confined environments.
The first one will be to design a sound amplification system, according to a principle similar to the one used in LASER for light amplification, using a micro-bubble matrix as a gain medium for acoustic waves synchronisation (Sound Amplification Stimulated by Emission of Radiation – SASER).
The second application will be the design of “sound powered micro-bots”, possessing a micro-bubble matrix propeller, that can be activated by a remote ultrasound generator. Such swimming micro-bots would find applications in health as mobile drug dispensers, or as active micro stirrers in lab-on-a-chip fluidic systems where mixing issues are of utmost importance.