Observation of yeast cell movement and aggregation in a small-scale MHZ-ultrasonic standing wave field

J. F. Spengler, M. Jekel, K. T. Christensen, R. J. Adrian, J. J. Hawkes, W. T. Coakley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


Aggregation of suspended yeast cells in a small-scale ultrasonic standing wave field has been monitored and quantified. The aggregation effect is based on the acoustic radiation force, which concentrates the cells in clumps. The ultrasonic chamber employed (1.9 MHz, one wavelength pathlength) had a sonication volume of 60 μl. The aggregation process was observed from above the transducer through a transparent glass reflector. A distinct, reproducible, pattern of clumps formed rapidly in the sound field. The sound pressure was estimated experimentally to be of the order of 1 MPa. Microscopic observations of the formation of a single clump were recorded onto a PC. The time dependent movement patterns and travelling velocities of the cells during the aggregation process were extracted by particle image velocimetry analysis. A time dependent change was seen in the particle motion pattern during approach to its completion of clump formation after 45 s. Streaming eddies were set-up during the first couple of seconds. The scale of the eddies was consistent with Rayleigh micro-streaming theory. An increase in the travelling velocity of the cells was observed after 30 s from initially about 400 μm s-1 to about 1 mm s-1. The influence of a number of mechanisms on particle behaviour (e.g. micro-streaming, particle interactions and convective flow) is considered. The experimental set-up introduced here is a powerful tool for aggregation studies in ultrasonic standing waves and lays the foundation for future quantitative experiments on the individual contributions of the different mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)329-341
Number of pages13
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Aggregation
  • Micro-streaming
  • Radiation force
  • Standing wave
  • Ultrasound

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Chemical Engineering(all)


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