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Airborne chemistry: acoustic levitation in chemical analysis

Santesson, Sabina, Nilsson, Staffan
Analytical and bioanalytical chemistry 2004 v.378 no.7 pp. 1704-1709
Raman spectroscopy, X-ray diffraction, acoustics, cell communication, chemical analysis, crystallization, drugs, fluorescence, image analysis, light scattering, mass transfer, microgravity, proteins, remote sensing, screening, solvents, temperature, ultrasonics
This review with 60 references describes a unique path to miniaturisation, that is, the use of acoustic levitation in analytical and bioanalytical chemistry applications. Levitation of small volumes of sample by means of a levitation technique can be used as a way to avoid solid walls around the sample, thus circumventing the main problem of miniaturisation, the unfavourable surface-to-volume ratio. Different techniques for sample levitation have been developed and improved. Of the levitation techniques described, acoustic or ultrasonic levitation fulfils all requirements for analytical chemistry applications. This technique has previously been used to study properties of molten materials and the equilibrium shapeand stability of liquid drops. Temperature and mass transfer in levitated drops have also been described, as have crystallisation and microgravity applications.The airborne analytical system described here is equipped with different and exchangeable remote detection systems. The levitated drops are normally in the 100 nL–2 μL volume range and additions to the levitated drop can be made in the pL-volume range.The use of levitated drops in analytical and bioanalytical chemistry offers several benefits. Several remote detection systems are compatible with acoustic levitation, including fluorescence imaging detection, right angle light scattering, Raman spectroscopy, and X-ray diffraction. Applications include liquid/liquid extractions, solvent exchange, analyte enrichment, single-cell analysis, cell–cell communication studies, precipitation screening of proteins to establish nucleation conditions, and crystallisation of proteins and pharmaceuticals.