Optimization and constraints in sonolithography

Paul Campbell, Paul Prentice

    Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


    The violent interaction between pressure driven cavitation nuclei and nearby rigid substrates is usually a troublesome occurrence, giving rise to damage, and often system failure in hydraulic systems. However, the extreme nature of the phenomenon can also be exploited in a positive sense in situations where deliberate wear or erosion of a material is desireable, such as with the application of shock wave lithotripsy to fragment kidney stones in a medical context. The purpose of the present study was to examine whether a system could be designed so as to afford, for the first time, a level of spatio-temporal control over cavitation processes, and thus exploit the extreme energy-focussing effects that can arise. Specifically, we looked at controlling individual cavitation nuclei, constituted by encapsulated microbubbles, in proximity to a nearby rigid substrate and activated by ultrasound. This was achieved using a novel optical trapping arrangement, which facilitated establishment of an arbitrary, stable, initial spatial configuration for a bubble system. Critically, exercising optical control in such a way meant that a microbubble could be isolated from a resident population during insonation, thus ensuring that 'cross-talk' with the rest of the bubble population was minimised. We observed, using high speed microphotography at circa one million frames per second that fine microjets are issued from cavitation microbubbles, and these impact the nearby substrate, etching the surface in a controllable manner: we have named this process 'sonolithography'. Attempting to scale up the process to activate multiple bubbles in parallel is not straightforward however, as we demonstrate herein for the simplest case of two bubbles insonated together. Here, the action of secondary radiation forces exerts significant influence over the activated microbubbles, which acts to direct energy away from the target lithography area. We discuss the salient aspects of these preliminary observations.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)49-54
    Number of pages6
    JournalMRS Online Proceedings Library
    Publication statusPublished - 2007
    EventNanoscale Pattern Formation - Boston, MA, United States
    Duration: 26 Nov 200730 Nov 2007


    • scanning probe microscopy (SPM)

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • General Materials Science
    • Condensed Matter Physics
    • Mechanics of Materials
    • Mechanical Engineering


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