Theory ultrasonic technology
What is "Ultrasonics?"
Ultrasonics is the science of sound waves above the limits of human audibility. The frequency of a sound wave determines its tone or pitch. Low frequencies produce low or bass tones. High frequencies produce high or treble tones. Ultrasound is a sound with a pitch so high that it can not be heard by the human ear. Frequencies above 18 Kilohertz are usually considered to be ultrasonic.
The frequencies used for ultrasonic cleaning range from 20,000 cycles per second or kilohertz (kHz) to over 100,000 kHz. The most commonly used frequencies for industrial cleaning are those between 20 kHz and 50kHz. Frequencies above 50kHz are more commonly used for high precision cleaning, removal of small particles and delicate parts.
The Nature of Sound Waves
The diagram above uses the coils of a spring to represent individual molecules of a sound conducting medium. The molecules in the medium are influenced by adjacent molecules in much the same way that the coils of the spring influence one another.
The source of the sound in the model is at the left. The compression generated by the sound source as it moves propagates down the length of the spring as each adjacent coil of the spring pushes against its neighbor. It is important to note that, although the wave travels from one end of the spring to the other, the individual coils remain in their same relative positions, being displaced first one way and then the other as the sound wave passes. As a result, each coil is first part of a compression as it is pushed toward the next coil and then part of a rarefaction as it recedes from the adjacent coil.
In much the same way, any point in a sound conducting medium is alternately subjected to compression and then rarefaction. At a point in the area of a compression, the pressure in the medium is positive. At a point in the area of a rarefaction, the pressure in the medium is negative.
Cavitation and Implosion
In elastic media such as air and most solids, there is a continuous transition as a sound wave is transmitted. In non-elastic media such as water and most liquids, there is continuous transition as long as the amplitude or "loudness" of the sound is relatively low.
As amplitude is increased, however, the magnitude of the negative pressure in the areas of rarefaction eventually becomes sufficient to cause the liquid to fracture because of the negative pressure, causing a phenomenon known as cavitation. Cavitation "bubbles" are created at sites of rarefaction as the liquid fractures or tears because of the negative pressure of the sound wave in the liquid.
As the wave fronts pass, the cavitation "bubbles" oscillate under the influence of positive pressure, eventually growing to an unstable size. Finally, the violent collapse of the cavitation "bubbles" results in implosions, which cause shock waves to be radiated from the sites of the collapse. The collapse and implosion of myriad cavitation "bubbles" throughout an ultrasonically activated liquid result in the effect commonly associated with ultrasonics.