Scientists use sound waves to levitate, manipulate matter

By on July 18, 2013

A team of researchers in Switzerland have developed a way of levitating and transporting small objects using nothing but sound.

Using ultrasonic waves – that is, sound waves whose frequency is too high for humans to hear – scientists at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich have made water droplets, instant coffee crystals, styrofoam flakes, and a toothpick, among other objects, hang in midair, move along a plane, and interact with each other. It is the first time that scientists have been able to use sound to simultaneously levitate several objects next to each other and move them around.

Research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences describes how objects placed between two horizontal surfaces, the bottom one emitting high-pitched sound waves and the top one reflecting the waves back, can be levitated and manipulated.

As anyone with a subwoofer and a teenager knows, sound waves exert pressure. When those waves are bounced between carefully aligned surfaces, they can create what is known as a standing wave, in which the total pressure from the original wave and its reflection cancel each other out. Objects placed at spots along the wave with the lowest amplitude, known as node points, tend to stay put.

In the past, scientists have been able to acoustically levitate bits of styrofoam and even small insects and fish. But until now, nobody has figured out how to get acoustically levitated objects to do anything other than just hang there, even though moving them has long been known to be theoretically possible.

“Theoretically there’s no difference between theory and practice,” says engineer Daniele Foresti, the study’s lead author, in a phone interview. “But in practice there is.”

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  • Isaiah 58

    in the 1920′s there was a comic called “Buck Rodgers” in the story, the “airships” walked around on “repulsor rays”…its a known fact that classified technology is at leat 20 years ahead of what is availible to the public. Interesting.

    • s_lock

      And how is this a “known fact?”


      • Zack Daniels

        Just because its unknown to you doesn’t make it and unknown fact to people who take it upon themselves to learn such things. This is, a matter of fact” a known and stated fact by the people who use such technologies.

    • jorge

      I would say more of a truism.

      • ManwithnoCountry

        It’s something reasonable to assume, I’d say.

  • Flop Xbass

    what about the ice?

  • ananomooose

    this photo is of superconductive lev

    • AD

      photojournalism at its finest

  • frankfan42

    There is in fact currently work being done on using ultrasonic waves in refrigeration, in the hopes of increasing efficiency. Fascinating topic.

  • Antonio Musa Washington

    Some scientists also believe ancient cultures like the egyptians for example, used this method to move giant rocks and stones to build their highly complexed structures.

    • Lauren McCracken


    • martin ash

      Not to mention the great pyramid itself was a huge super conductor using Earths resonant frequency to produce power. They had sound waves sussed back in those days. We didn’t evolve from cave men 10,000 years ago, we descended from the intelligent race that built these structures 12,000 years ago..

      • Baroni

        Rather than ascended from, what if it was this intelligent race that originally created all life on earth, then created us in their image?

        • daznez

          ^ false history implanted by the rulers. we are children of the earth and source. they want us off the planet and they are using a ton of different methods to do it. discern everything, do not ignore your heart and true self.
          peace & love & unity :-)

      • Jay king

        Well some people evolve from cave men , but the majority of people of color in the world ascended from the Nubians { Africans } 100,000′s of thousands of years ago. Where civilization began it will all again end.

      • Leslie Boxert

        i think they QUIT building these great structures 12000 years ago, and began much earlier than that.

  • Coral Capettini

    Hoverboards! Hoverboards! Hoverboards!

  • Alex Morlina

    Seriously.. If you are going to steal someone else’s article… Steal the photos too… dont mix and match. There are enough idiots in the world. Stop confusing them.

  • Keith Brandwood Kofoed

    Could this technology be used to lift and propel a vehicle. If instead of floating objects on top of it could it be pointed down to float its self?

    • Layloe Mineur Medley

      yes. this and 3Dbio printing will develop a levitating organic vehicle

    • Alex McDonald

      You have a point. But I think you mean that you would have to increase the level of sound at the rear, and reduce at the front. Therefore creating a sound pulsewave to propel the given object forward/ reverse/sideways?

      • Keith Brandwood Kofoed

        Well the technology they have is to move an object around just with the sound waves. They aren’t introducing a perpendicular wave generator to cause the motion they are altering the wave patters to cause movement. If thats the case it seems like you could use the same units that would float the craft to propel and steer it.

    • Emil Jansen

      ive heard of alternate means of energy generation to develop movement in an aircraft, for instance, no thrust, but pull, creating gravitational field around the aircraft to pull it where you wish. this woul dplay with space-time, this could be used to explain why you see ufos seemingly teleport from one place in the sky to another, they do not, but interfiring with space time probably does funny things, making it appear as if the aircraft had teleported, though it hasnt………..just for the record this is just theory, im by no means stating this as fact.

      • Keith Brandwood Kofoed

        They are working on creating small scale warp bubbles as we speak. If they can demonstrate it at the smallest of scales then they won’t be far from creating warp drive. They have known for 30 or 40 years that theoretically with enough power you could create a warp bubble but the energy requirements were just astronomical. Something on the order of an energy source the size of Jupiter. Just recently someone revisited the theory and discovered (again theoretically based on the physics and mathmatics) that the key was in the angle at which the field is created. He found the optimal field and the energy requirements are not much more than what it takes to launch a space shuttle. There are a few other stumbling blocks but at least its feasible enough to begin testing.

  • AD

    It’s official – the future is now.

  • Guest

    All this technology that could set the human race free will be suppressed once again so that the adolescent spiritual beings can accumulate money by selling us fossil fuels and other harmful practices.

  • Francois Gerber

    This technology, like so many others before it, will be suppressed so that the adolescent souls living on this planet can accumulate more money and control over the rest of us.

  • Luciano Silva

    There are some [very] old stories of monks using musical instruments to generate sounds that make heavy stones easy to push and build their monasteries.

  • Maria al-Qibtiyya

    wow the video in the is amazing.

  • Eva Hallvik

    at Adams’ Calendar in South Africa, a type of stonehenge there were found several rocks, all with 3 cm size holes in the middle, and the stone there was like non i had ever heard before, and somehow with these rocks, and holes they moved the great big rocks to build many structures. They are thought to be some of the first peoples on earth that were enslaved by indescribable large beings. It was then that i knew sound was the true sustainable source of energy

  • Srdar

    Sound, Universal Frequency, Shabad OR ANHAD is at the center of Sikhism! Religious book is set to music and each hymn is deemed powerful. My opinion is that before cars will move by magnetism they will actually be levitated by sound waves coming from beneath them and behind them.

    • Maria al-Qibtiyya

      You words:Sound, Universal Frequency, Shabad OR ANHAD is at the center of Sikhism! Religious book is set to music and each hymn is deemed powerful.

      Mr. sikh, how does it make sense?

      • Srdar

        It is called by various names. Since we can hear It, It has been termed “Shabd”, “The Audible Life Stream”, “The Sound Current”. This is the “word” or “Logos” of the Holy Bible In the Granth Sahib it is called “Shabd Duhn”, “Nam”. It is the “Khun” of the Quran, the “Nad” of the Vedas, and the “Anhad” of the Upanishads.

        • Maria al-Qibtiyya


          Oh yeah. Got it you you meant!

  • melanie

    What we are being taught in schools etc is not the full picture. The objects are not made of matter but energy. Stick humans, animals, and objects underneath a microscope and you’ll see a swirl of vibrating energy. When we focus our attention on anything we change the energy. We can even change the energy of a room just by what we are thinking and feeling. The energy responds to our beliefs so whatever we believe will come true for us. Humans are made of this electro magnetic energy too and we have the power to levitate our own bodies if we wish.

  • Nemi

    Its strange for me that once again people are only able to accept a natural phenomena when It has a ‘science ‘ label. In reality levitation has been done for a long time, it has always been true.

  • yvo84

    That’s interesting. I wonder where this research will lead.

  • jay f kay

    Coral Castle