All researchers and technicians in the chemical, biotech, medical and pharmaceutical professions will find themselves stirring or mixing a fluid solution at some point in their career. Some samples in NMR tubes or delicate materials may require an ultrasonic homoginizer – or sonicator – in order to ensure dissolution or the production of small particle sizes to promote reactivity. Homogenizers can be used to break down cell barriers, de-gas solutions, or study the effects of sonic waves on specific substances. These laboratory homogenizers can be either bench-top or hand-held. Sonicators can achieve speeds between 2000 and 35,000 rpms, and can handle sample volumes ranging between .03 mLs and 5 Ls.

What is a Ultrasonic homogenizer?

Ultrasonic homogenizers, commonly referred to as “sonicators,” disrupt tissues and cells through cavitation and ultrasonic waves. Basically, an ultrasonic homogenizer has a tip which very rapidly vibrates, causing bubbles in the surrounding solution to rapidly form and collapse. This creates shear and shock waves which tear apart cells and particles.

Ultrasonics / sonicators are great for breaking apart cells and subcellular structures in suspension. They are not good for homogenizing intact tissue. Ultrasonic homogenizers can also shear DNA, which could be a good thing or a bad thing depending on your application. Other applications include creating emulsions, dispersing nanoparticles, and reducing the size of particles in suspension. Sonicators generate a significant amount of heat so they may not work well with temperature-sensitive samples. Acoustic enclosures are highly recommended; after all, you’re homogenizing using high-powered sound waves.

Ultrasonic Homogenizers are recommended for homogenization and lysis of laboratory samples that do not require traditional grinding or rotor-stator cutting techniques for processing. Small and large ultrasonic probes are used in a variety of sample volumes to be processed. A solid probe allows for less chance of sample loss and cross-contamination between samples.

Sonication is the act of applying sound energy to agitate particles in a sample, for various purposes. Ultrasonic frequencies (around 20 kHz) are usually used, leading to the process also being known as ultrasonication or ultra-sonication. In the laboratory, it is usually applied using an ultrasonic bath or an ultrasonic probe, colloquially known as a sonifier.

Sonication can be used for the production of nanoparticles, such as nanoemulsions, nanocrystals, liposomes and wax emulsions, as well as for wastewater purification, degassing, extraction of plant oil, extraction of anthocyanins and antioxidants, production of biofuels, crude oil desulphurization, cell disruption, polymer and epoxy processing, adhesive thinning, and many other processes. Sonication is also commonly used in nanotechnology for evenly dispersing nanoparticles in liquids.

Widespread Application of ultrasonic homogenization

Application of ultrasonic homogenization in energy efficient and effective functioning under intense stress and high shear to liquid and powder mixtures, simply liquids and slurries is anticipated to drive the ultrasonic homogenizers market significantly over the forecast period. Ultrasonic homogenization provides the features of dispersing, mixing, extraction, chemical reaction and size reduction for industrial as well as laboratory purposes. While ultrasonic batch homogenizers can be used for laboratory purposes continuous ultrasonic homogenizers are used for industrial purposes. Moreover, ultrasonic homogenizers function in manufacturing of dispersions and suspensions and dissolution of hard-to-dissolve and extremely hard-to-dissolve substances in fluids which is predicted to drive the market steadily over the forecast period.

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