Homogenizers come in a variety of shapes and sizes and operate under several different kinds of forces. The ultrasonic homogenizer is a specific type of homogenizer which uses ultrasonic waves and cavitation to force apart and reduce the size of particles (both liquid and solid) within a liquid substance.
Also known as sonicators, ultrasonic homogenizers consist of three parts:
- A generator, which supplies energy.
- A converter, which converts and increases electrical energy into mechanical motion.
- A horn, probe or tip, which when placed into a liquid moves in a rapid fashion and causes bubbles to form. These bubbles expand and contract, breaking apart the surrounding particles (called cavitation).
Of course, the goal of homogenization is not only to break apart, but to mix, particles. And in this sense, ultrasonic homogenizers hold an advantage, as their stimulation of cavitation so effectively disrupts molecular bonds that the total particle surface area is greatly increased. This is because breaking apart particles creates more particles with more surfaces. And when there is a greater total surface area and a tighter distribution of particles, there is improved opportunity for particle agglomeration and overall improved stability.
Furthermore, ultrasonic homogenizers have fewer parts to maintain and to clean, and they can be customized according to specific amplitude and pressure ranges, making them great choices for scientists and manufacturers wanting complete control over the cavitation process.
Ultrasonic homogenizers can be used to homogenize samples, lyse cells, reduce particle size, extract biological material, refine chemical processes and more, but only with liquid (or mostly liquid) samples. They are appropriate for application in both laboratory and industrial settings and are especially valuable when a sample can’t be stirred, doesn’t require grinding or cutting for processing and won’t be degraded by heat (as high temperatures often result with the rapid agitation of the sonicator tip).
As mentioned, ultrasonic homogenizers can be used in a wide variety of industries by all kinds of professionals. Life scientists can use them to facilitate sonoporation. Jewelers and opticians can use them to clean their merchandise. Food scientists, agriculturalists and chemists can use them to enhance their "soft goods" processing. Archaeologists can use them to uncover microfossils. Pharmaceutical researchers can use them to produce betters drugs. And these are just a few examples!
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Picking the right kind of homogenizer depends on the type of materials with which you work and what you want to accomplish with them. If you need help selecting the right homogenizer for your task, contact our team at BEE International.
Please feel free to also download our complimentary eBook, “7 Key Factors to Consider When Choosing a Cell Lysis Method,” for practical advice on enhancing your time, budget and skills with the right piece of equipment.