Saturday, April 21, 2012

Real Dr Who ultrasonic screwdriver.

Doctor Who is a science fiction series that holds the title of being the television show with longer duration in the genre world besides being one of the most popular series in the UK. The Doctor, the protagonist of the series, in addition to the ship TARDIS (with which he travels through time and space), has a tool called sonic  screwdriver which can, for example, open the lock of a door. A research team from the University of Dundee (UK) has been working on a device that holds a certain resemblance to the tool of the Doctor and is also based on the use of ultrasonic waves.

While still a big leap to emulate the performance of the sonic screwdriver from the popular TV series (check the TARDIS, trace alien life, etc.), the research team at the British university has conducted an experiment in which they have been able to lift a puck (which was floating in a bowl of water) and run it through the application of ultrasonic wavefront.

Ultrasounds are acoustic wavefronts that are above the perceptible frequency that a human can ear,above 20 KHz and, for example, are often used for ultrasound (frequency around 2 MHz) or echolocation used by bats and dolphins or guidance and counseling methods.

Why it is important to this device? If we consider that, apart from ultrasound and some other applications, ultrasonic waves have been used to push objects or subject to vibration (dissolve a kidney stone) and had never managed to lift an object and control its movement, this is one of the few applications in which it has been possible to control the wavefront to perform an action.

Dr. Mike MacDonald said "this device opens the door to new applications of ultrasound and demonstrates that it is possible to exercise greater control, for example, new surgical techniques or developing new instrument that minimizes the impact of any procedure and reduces thus the downtime of the patient. Indeed, the use of ultrasound is not new in the field of health and, in addition to kidney stones and even used in muscle rehabilitation therapies" .

A very interesting device which has been developed within a research program to develop systems and search for new non-invasive treatments.


  1. lol did not know about this

  2. Anonymous26.4.12

    nice post, and also didn't know about this being a fan myself