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Effective homogenization with ultrasound

| von Julia

Ultrasonic homogenizers have become increasingly important in recent years in working areas such as laboratory analysis, sonochemistry, medicine or quality control. Thanks to their uncomplicated handling, you can achieve precise and, above all, reproducible results in no time. Find out here how exactly ultrasonic homogenization works and which of our laboratory devices is best suited for this purpose.

Ultrasonic homogenizer: how it works

Due to its high frequencies, which can range from 16 kHz to 1 GHz, ultrasound is not accessible to human perception. Typically, an ultrasound homogenizer consists of three components: an ultrasound transducer, a high-frequency generator, and an autoclavable sonotrode.

The device usually operates at quite low frequencies around 20 kHz, which are generated by the high-frequency generator. The vibrations that are generated and amplified by the sonotrode create millions of tiny vacuum bubbles in all liquids, which immediately implode and generate highly effective pressure surges. This process is referred to as cavitation. Low frequencies around 20 kHz produce bubbles with a larger diameter and more intense pressure surges compared to higher frequencies around 35 kHz.

During cavitation, for example, dirt residues are separated extraordinarily effectively and at the same time gently from the surfaces as well as from recesses or holes of the parts present in the liquid. If the sound intensity is high enough, even infectious agents can be deactivated in the blink of an eye with the use of disinfectants. In addition, an ultrasonic homogenizer can also be used, for example, for degassing or mixing liquids.

Where are ultrasonic homogenizers used?

Whether in the food industry, life science, pharmaceutical and cosmetics industry, biotechnology or in the examination and processing of waste, soils, materials or nanoparticles: everywhere there are areas of application in which the direct introduction of ultrasound into the samplehas established itself as a supplement to the tried and tested ultrasonic bath.

An ultrasonic homogenizer can be used for the following activities, provided that a liquid medium is available:

  • Sample preparation for analysis
  • Suspending, emulsifying, homogenizing
  • Cell and tissue disruption or sonochemistry
  • Deagglomeration and extraction

What to look for when choosing an ultrasonic homogenizer?

To ensure that you find exactly the right ultrasonic homogenization unit for your area of application, you should not only pay attention to the power (in watts) of the unit when buying or consulting. This value does not provide any information about the effect of the ultrasonic amplitude on the respective medium. Those who want to find the suitable device or the device with the best possible sonication result should thus take a look at the specification of the amplitude at the sonotrode tip, taking into account the sample quantity.

What does this mean in concrete terms? To achieve the same amplitude, more power is required the higher the viscosity of the medium. This fact can also be explained by the speed of a car.

Example: The target speed is 40 km/h (= amplitude). When driving uphill, more power is needed to maintain speed than is the case when driving downhill.

Are special vessels required for the application?

Basically, all types of vessels or containers are suitable for working with an ultrasonic homogenizer. Even the material does not play a role here. Thus, both glass and plastic vessels are suitable. In terms of shape, our team tends to recommend narrow, tapered (conical) containers. Here, optimum power transmission can be guaranteed and splashing of the liquid prevented.

Achieve precise results with the UP200St from Hielscher Ultrasonics

Take your sample preparation to a new level with the UP200St from Hielscher Ultrasonics. The unit comes with a separate UP200St-T and the UP200St-G generator and are therefore particularly suitable for work in especially demanding environments. In addition to its user-friendliness and innovative control functions, the UP200St impresses with a high degree of robustness and flexibility. Equipped with a color touch screen, integrated LEDs for sample illumination, a plug-in temperature sensor, an SD card for automatic data logging, and numerous other features, the UP200St leaves nothing to be desired.

The most common applications of the powerful ultrasonic homogenizer include homogenization, emulsification, dispersion, deagglomeration & wet milling (particle size reduction), cell disruption and disintegration, extraction, degassing and sonochemical processes. Basically, the UP200St is used for sonication of volumes from 0.1 to 2000 ml. A wide range of sonotrodes with diameters from 1 to 40 mm also enables optimal adaptation to the sample medium.

Discover even more details of the UP200ST in our product preview

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