Lab Equipment Tech Insights: Ultrasonic Processors

Versatile, high-intensity ultrasonic processors can safely process a variety of organic and inorganic materials in a range of volumes. Typical applications for this lab equipment include cell lysing, sample preparation, disaggregation, homogenization, particle size reduction, soil testing, and acceleration of chemical reactions.

Ultrasonic Processor with Pulsing Button

Ultrasonic Processor with Pulsing Button

Vibrations from the probe form millions of microscopic bubbles (cavities) that expand and implode violently. This phenomenon, called cavitation, produces the powerful shearing action at the probe tip and causes the molecules in the liquid to become intensely agitated. Probes are fabricated from titanium alloy TI-6AL-4V, and act as mechanical transformers to increase the amplitude of vibration generated by the converter.

When seeking to achieve efficient cell disruption with probe-style ultrasonic processors, consider the following:

Probes: The larger the probe diameter, the larger the volume that can be processed, but at reduced intensity. Higher wattages are required to process larger volumes, higher viscosities, and when working under high pressures. When working with samples containing organic solvents or low surface tension liquids, always use a solid probe and not a probe with a replaceable tip. All probes are autoclavable. Larger probes require higher power.

Temperature: Low temperatures produce the most effective cavitation. Elevated temperatures, raised by the agitation of the ultrasonic processor over time, may damage sensitive biological samples. A cooling cell can prevent unwanted warming of samples. 

Tip Amplitude and Intensity: Amplify the longitudinal vibrations of the converter by adding a tip to the end of the probe. This amplification produces greater disruption and more intense cavitation.

Power: The energy required to drive the radiating surface of a given probe at a particular amplitude and frequency. The intensity of cavitation breaks the cells and emulsifies liquids (not the total power applied to the system), yet higher power is required to process larger liquid volumes and to process against higher liquid viscosities and pressures.

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