Heinrich M. Jaeger
University of Chicago
Acoustically Levitated Granular Matter
Granular matter can serve as a prototype for exploring the rich physics of many-body systems driven far from equilibrium. This talk will outline a new direction for granular physics with macroscopic particles, where acoustic levitation compensates the forces due to gravity and eliminates frictional interactions with supporting surfaces in order to focus on particle interactions. Levitating small particles by intense ultrasound fields in air makes it possible to manipulate and control their positions and assemble them into larger aggregates. The small air viscosity implies that the regime of underdamped dynamics can be explored, where inertial effects are important, in contrast to typical colloids in a liquid, where inertia can be neglected. Sound scattered off individual, levitated solid particles gives rise to controllable attractive forces with neighboring particles. I will discuss some of the key concepts underlying acoustic levitation, describe how detuning an acoustic cavity can introduce active fluctuations that control the assembly statistics of small levitated particles clusters, and give examples of how interactions between neighboring levitated objects can be controlled by their shape.