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The Power of Ultrasound

Hugo Miguel Santos, Carlos Lodeiro, and Jos e-Luis Capelo-MartRnez

1.1 Introduction

During the last 20 years we have witnessed an amazing increase in the application of ultrasonic energy in different fields of science. This is especially true for analytical chemistry. The number of manuscripts devoted to almost all kinds of analysis dealing with the uses of ultrasonic energy continues to grow year by year. As the uses of ultrasonication have become increasingly important in analytical chemistry so to has the importance of the type of ultrasonic device chosen to work with. Figure 1.1 shows the most common ultrasonic devices used nowadays in analytical applications. Not all devices perform equally and neither are all intended for the same applications. Therefore, the first thing to acquire when developing analytical chemistry with the aid of ultrasonication is a knowledge of the differences among the ultrasonic apparatus available, especially of the advantages and disadvantages expected for each one. Therefore, this chapter explains the state-of-the-art of ultrasonic technology as applied to analytical chemistry.

1.2 Cavitation

Sound, including ultrasound, is transmitted through any physical medium by waves that compress and stretch the molecular spacing of the medium through which it passes. As the ultrasound cross the medium (Figure 1.2) the average distance between the molecules will vary as they oscillate about their mean position. When the negative pressure caused for an ultrasonic wave crossing a liquid is large enough, the distance between the molecules of the liquid exceeds the minimum molecular distance required to hold the liquid intact, and then the liquid breaks down and voids are created. Those voids are the so-called cavitation bubbles [1–3].

Ultrasound in Chemistry: Analytical Applications. Edited by José-Luis Capelo-Martínez Copyright ! 2009 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim

ISBN: 978-3-527-31934-3


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