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PNAS paper on breakthrough in acoustic droplet vaporization

This work explains the long-standing puzzle of the physical mechanisms underlying acoustic droplet vaporization (ADV). ADV makes use of low-boiling-point perfluorocarbon droplets that become metastable once injected into the body, where they can be activated by high-intensity ultrasound. How ultrasound can physically trigger the vaporization remained elusive, also given the large mismatch between the ultrasound wavelength and the droplet size. Here we show that vaporization is preceded by nonlinear propagation of the ultrasound wave generating superharmonics. These high-frequency waves focus efficiently within the droplet, triggering vaporization. ADV shows great potential for advanced medical diagnosis and therapy. Our new understanding allows for further reduction of the required pressure amplitudes, thereby minimizing the adverse effects on healthy tissue.

Acoustic droplet vaporization is initiated by superharmonic focusing

O. Shpak et al.

PNAS 111(5) pp. 1697–1702 (2014)

doi: 10.1073/pnas.1312171111

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