Ultrasonic homogenizers utilize high-frequency sound waves to create mechanical vibrations in liquids, resulting in smaller particles and better homogenization. They are vital in various industries, such as pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, and materials science.
Different types of ultrasonic homogenizers cater to specific applications, such as laboratory use, continuous flow processing, and portability for fieldwork. Common applications encompass cell lysis, mixing, degassing, particle size reduction, chemical synthesis, cleaning, and dispersion of materials like graphene. Sound abating enclosures can mitigate the noise generated by ultrasonic homogenizers. Overall, these tools offer efficient, versatile, and precise sample processing capabilities. We, Nanografi, a leading provider of laboratory equipment and solutions, offer high-quality ultrasonic homogenizers for a wide range of applications in the fields of biology, chemistry, and general analysis.
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Ultrasonic homogenizers use high frequency sound waves for creating mechanical vibrations in the solution or liquid that is examined. This results with smaller particles and makes the liquid more homogenized. For laboratory samples that do not require conventional grinding or rotor stator cutting techniques for processing, an ultrasonic homogenizer may be the best choice for homogenizing samples. As the technology advances, researchers are exploring more ways to harness its potential across diverse fields, from medicine to environmental science.
What is An Ultrasonic Homogenizer?
An ultrasonic homogenizer, also known as an ultrasonic processor or sonicator, is a laboratory device that uses high frequency sound waves to mix, disperse, or emulsify samples. The process that happens is known as ultrasonic homogenization. The process for homogenization made by applying ultrasonic sound waves to a sample in order to break down particles and create a more homogeneous mixture.
Ultrasonic homogenizers are commonly used in a wide range of industries and research fields. For instance pharmacy and drug making industry, biotechnology, food examining, and especially materials science. They are useful for processing samples that are difficult to homogenize by using traditional methods, such as viscous liquids or samples containing small particles that are tend to be settling.
Ultrasonic homogenizers are also could be useful for the preparation of nanoparticles, where the high energy cavitation can break down larger particles into smaller and more uniform particles. Ultrasonic homogenizers are fast, efficient, and reliable method for mixing, dispersing, and emulsifying samples.
Components of Ultrasonic Homogenizers
The ultrasonic homogenizer consists of several important components. They are:
- an ultrasonic transducer
- a probe
- a horn and
- sample container or vessel.
The ultrasonic transducer is the heart of the ultrasonic homogenizer, which converts the electrical energy into high frequency (20kHz – 100kHz) sound waves for a process called piezoelectric effect. The transducer is made of a special material that is called piezoelectric crystals. These crystals generally made of quartz or ceramic, that vibrates very fast when subjected to a changing electric field. These vibrations are transmitted to the probe, which amplifies and focuses the energy into the sample.
The probe is a metal rod or horn that is connected to the ultrasonic transducer and immersed into the sample. The horn is designed to amplify the energy from the transducer into the sample. Also, it should be minimize the energy loss due to reflection, absorption, or diffraction. The shape and size of the horn can change depending on the application and the sample characteristics like viscosity, density, and volume. Some common shapes of horns are cylindric, conic and flat.
The sample container or vessel is the container that holds the sample during the ultrasonic homogenization process. It can be made of different materials, such as glass, plastic, metal, or ceramic, depending on the compatibility with the sample and the ultrasonic energy. The vessel should be able to withstand the high-intensity sound waves and the associated temperature and pressure changes without breaking or deforming. Some vessels may also have cooling or heating features to control the sample temperature during sonication. Also, ultrasonic homogenizers generally have some safety features like safety switches or fuses.
Figure 1. Experimental set up of the ultrasonic homogenizer.
How Does an Ultrasonic Homogenizer Work?
The principle of ultrasonic homogenization is grounded on the phenomena of acoustic cavitation, which arises when high-intensity sound waves travel through a liquid. When electrical energy is applied to the ultrasonic transducer, it's converted into these high-frequency sound waves. These waves, upon entering the liquid via the probe, create alternating cycles of compression (high pressure) and rarefaction (low pressure). During the rarefaction phase, microscopic bubbles or voids are formed. As the pressure rises during the compression phase, these bubbles undergo rapid collapse, producing extreme local temperatures and pressures. This leads to the generation of high-shear forces, shock waves, and microjets. Such intense forces disrupt cells or particles in the sample, resulting in their breakdown or dispersion into finer fragments. The outcome is a homogenized or sonicated sample ready for various applications, including analysis, extraction, purification, or synthesis.
Types of Ultrasonic Homogenizers
There are different types of ultrasonic homogenizers. All types of ultrasonic homogenizer has its own advantages The choice of homogenizer depends on the specific application and the characteristics of the sample being processed. Some of the most common types of ultrasonic homogenizers are:
Laboratory Ultrasonic Homogenizer
This type of homogenizer is designed for laboratory use and is used for small or medium scale applications. It usually has compact and ergonomic design. It typically operates at frequencies between 20 kHz and 100 kHz and is capable of processing samples in volumes ranging from a few milliliters to several liters also it can process for up to 24 hours.
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Flow-Through Ultrasonic Homogenizers
These homogenizers use a special flow-through horn or chamber to process liquid samples continuously. They are often used for large-scale processing of liquids, such as in the food and beverage industry.
Portable Ultrasonic Homogenizer Machine
Portable ultrasonic homogenizers are small, compact, and portable, making it ideal for field applications, where samples need to be processed on-site, or in settings where space is limited. They are ideal for applications such as emulsification, dispersion, cell lysis, and nanoparticle synthesis. They are also useful for processing samples that cannot be transported to a laboratory, such as biological samples or food products. The compact and portable design of these machines makes them a popular choice for research, quality control, and production applications. It is typically battery powered and can be used for on-site sample preparation, such as soil testing and water quality monitoring.
Ultrasonic Homogenizer Applications
Ultrasonic homogenizers are versatile tools that have a wide range of applications in various industries, including pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, food processing, chemical synthesis, and materials science. Some of the most common applications of ultrasonic homogenizers are:
Cell Lysis and DNA Extraction
Ultrasonic homogenizers can be used to disrupt cells and extract DNA, RNA, or proteins from biological samples, such as tissues, cells, bacteria, or viruses. The high-intensity sound waves can break the cell membranes and release the intracellular components, which can then be isolated and analyzed.
Homogenization and Mixing
Ultrasonic homogenizers can be used to mix and homogenize different substances, such as powders, liquids, or gases, by applying high-frequency sound waves. This can improve the uniformity and consistency of the mixture and enhance the reactivity or solubility of the components.
Degassing and Deaeration
Ultrasonic homogenizers can be used to remove the entrapped air bubbles or gases from liquids, such as solvents, coatings, or resins. The high-intensity sound waves can create cavitation bubbles that collapse and release the trapped gases, leading to a more uniform and defect-free product.
Particle Size Reduction and Nanostructuring
Ultrasonic homogenizers can be used to reduce the size of particles or aggregates to nanometer scale, which can enhance their surface area, reactivity, or bioavailability. The high-intensity sound waves can induce shear forces, cavitation, and acoustic streaming, leading to the fragmentation and disintegration of the particles.
Chemical Synthesis and Catalysis
Ultrasonic homogenizers can be used to enhance the rate and selectivity of chemical reactions, such as hydrolysis, esterification, oxidation, or reduction. The high-frequency sound waves can promote the mass transfer, mixing, and activation of the reactants, leading to a more efficient and sustainable process.
Cleaning and Sterilization
Ultrasonic homogenizers can be used to clean and sterilize surfaces, equipment, or instruments, by applying high-intensity sound waves in a cleaning solution or disinfectant. The cavitation effect of the sound waves can remove the dirt, debris, or microorganisms from the surface, leading to a more effective and eco-friendly cleaning method.
Emulsification and Dispersion
Ultrasonic homogenizers can be used to create stable emulsions and dispersions of liquids, such as oil in water or water in oil emulsions, or suspensions of solids in liquids. The high-frequency sound waves can break the surface tension and agglomerates of the particles. With just 10 minute of sonication, ultrasonic homogenizers can reduce interfacial molecular area by 5 times. Result of the process leads to a more uniform and stable dispersion.
For detailed information on the features and applications of homogenizers, read our blog.
Making Graphene with Using Ultrasonic Homogenizer
Another less known feature of ultrasonic homogenizers is producing graphene sheets with using graphite. We know graphite hexagon structured allotrope of carbon atom. Graphite’s structure is occurs by this stacked honeycomb-like sheets. Graphene, on the other hand, is a structure formed of 1 atom thick layers of graphite. By its unique structure it has some properties these are superior to many material.
Graphene or another type of graphene, “graphene oxide (GO)” which is oxidized form of graphene can be produced with a method called “exfoliation”. Exfoliation process can be easily performed with an ultrasonic homogenizer. Graphite powder and an organic solvent (materials like N,N-dimethylformamide (DMF), tetrahydrofuran (THF), dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO)and so on) mixture sonicated by an ultrasonic homogenizer for exfoliation process. This causes graphite to collide individual layers of hexagon structured carbon atoms. This process can lead to production of high quality graphene nano sheets but, it requires high performance ultrasonic homogenizers. With a proper ultrasonic homogenizer, produced graphene’s lateral size can become range of 400 nm to 20 micron.
Ultrasonic homogenizer for dispersion graphene
Other than preparing and producing graphene oxide sheets with ultrasonic homogenizer, ultrasonic homogenizer can be used for dispersing graphene. Graphene Dispersions are suspensions of graphene nanoplatelets in water or various organic liquids like ethanol or some oil. With ultrasonic homogenizer graphene can dispersed easily and carbon-based nanomaterials with typical particle sizes from 10nm to 5 microns and in coated and surface functionalized forms can be manufactured.
The ultrasonic waves create high-frequency pressure waves that cause cavitation, or the formation and blow of microscopic bubbles in the liquid, which in turn create high shear forces that can break apart graphene aggregates.
To use an ultrasonic homogenizer to disperse graphene, the material is typically mixed with a solvent such as water or an organic solvent to create a suspension. The suspension is then placed in a container and exposed to high frequency sound waves from the ultrasonic homogenizer. The intensity and duration of the ultrasonic waves can be adjusted to control the degree of dispersion and the size of the graphene flakes.
Ultrasonic homogenizer can be a great choice for dispersing graphene, can be used to break down clumps or aggregates of graphene into smaller individual flakes or sheets, which can improve the material's properties and increase its surface area. Graphene with high electrical conductivity (712 Sm-1), good dispersion and high concentration can be easily prepared by ultrasonic homogenizer. Ultrasonic treatment allows the preparation of a stable graphene dispersion at a low process temperature for around 65 °C.
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Sound Abating Enclosure for Ultrasonic Homogenizer
Since the ultrasonic homogenizer converts the voltage to high frequency sound waves and ultrasonic homogenizer makes a lot of noise, as can be expected. Because of this reason an enclosure is developed for reducing the operating noise level of ultrasonic homogenizer, that called sound abating enclosure. A sound abating enclosure for an ultrasonic homogenizer is an effective way to reduce the amount of noise generated by the homogenizer. It is important to protected from temporarily and permanent hear losses and make the laboratory or industrial environment more comfortable for scientists or all users.
How Does Sound Abating Enclosure Works?
A sound abating enclosure for an ultrasonic homogenizer is a type of enclosure designed to reduce the noise produced by the homogenizer during operation. Ultrasonic homogenizers produce high frequency sound waves that can be loud and potentially damaging to hearing if exposed to for extended periods of time. A sound abating enclosure is designed to minimize the noise generated by an ultrasonic homogenizer by creating a barrier between the ultrasonic homogenizer and the surrounding environment. The enclosure is typically made of sound-absorbing materials such as foam or fiberglass and may include additional features like vibration isolation mounts and acoustic blankets.
The enclosure is designed to be large enough to accommodate the ultrasonic homogenizer while allowing for easy access to the controls and the homogenizing probe. It may also include features such as a transparent window or a built in light to facilitate observation of the homogenization process.
When the ultrasonic homogenizer is placed inside the enclosure, the sound waves generated by the homogenizer are absorbed by the sound absorbing materials, which reduces the amount of noise that escapes from the enclosure. The vibration isolation mounts and acoustic blankets further dampen any remaining noise and prevent it from propagating to the surrounding environment.
Ultrasonic homogenizers have become an essential tool in many industries and research fields due to its ability to sterilize , disperse, catalysis and homogenize samples that are difficult to process them by using traditional methods. The principle of acoustic cavitation used in ultrasonic homogenization creates high-intensity forces that break down particles and create a more homogeneous mixture or used for. With different types of ultrasonic homogenizers available. They can be used for small or large scale applications. Ultrasonic homogenizers are fast, efficient, reliable, and capable of processing samples in volumes ranging from a few milliliters to several liters. With the energy of sound waves so many applications could be made thanks to ultrasonic homogenizers technology. The advancements in ultrasonic homogenizers technology have opened new ways for research, development, and industrial production. Explore the potential of Nanografi's advanced ultrasonic homogenizer technology for cutting-edge solutions in research, development, and industrial applications.
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