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Concept: Cavitation


Cracking sounds emitted from human synovial joints have been attributed historically to the sudden collapse of a cavitation bubble formed as articular surfaces are separated. Unfortunately, bubble collapse as the source of joint cracking is inconsistent with many physical phenomena that define the joint cracking phenomenon. Here we present direct evidence from real-time magnetic resonance imaging that the mechanism of joint cracking is related to cavity formation rather than bubble collapse. In this study, ten metacarpophalangeal joints were studied by inserting the finger of interest into a flexible tube tightened around a length of cable used to provide long-axis traction. Before and after traction, static 3D T1-weighted magnetic resonance images were acquired. During traction, rapid cine magnetic resonance images were obtained from the joint midline at a rate of 3.2 frames per second until the cracking event occurred. As traction forces increased, real-time cine magnetic resonance imaging demonstrated rapid cavity inception at the time of joint separation and sound production after which the resulting cavity remained visible. Our results offer direct experimental evidence that joint cracking is associated with cavity inception rather than collapse of a pre-existing bubble. These observations are consistent with tribonucleation, a known process where opposing surfaces resist separation until a critical point where they then separate rapidly creating sustained gas cavities. Observed previously in vitro, this is the first in-vivo macroscopic demonstration of tribonucleation and as such, provides a new theoretical framework to investigate health outcomes associated with joint cracking.

Concepts: Magnetic resonance imaging, Observation, Joint, Synovial joint, Joints, Phenomenon, Cavitation, Cracking joints


The articular release of the metacarpophalangeal joint produces a typical cracking sound, resulting in what is commonly referred to as the cracking of knuckles. Despite over sixty years of research, the source of the knuckle cracking sound continues to be debated due to inconclusive experimental evidence as a result of limitations in the temporal resolution of non-invasive physiological imaging techniques. To support the available experimental data and shed light onto the source of the cracking sound, we have developed a mathematical model of the events leading to the generation of the sound. The model resolves the dynamics of a collapsing cavitation bubble in the synovial fluid inside a metacarpophalangeal joint during an articular release. The acoustic signature from the resulting bubble dynamics is shown to be consistent in both magnitude and dominant frequency with experimental measurements in the literature and with our own experiments, thus lending support for cavitation bubble collapse as the source of the cracking sound. Finally, the model also shows that only a partial collapse of the bubble is needed to replicate the experimentally observed acoustic spectra, thus allowing for bubbles to persist following the generation of sound as has been reported in recent experiments.

Concepts: Causality, Science, Experiment, Joints, Sound, Sonar, Replicate, Cavitation


The physics and chemistry of nonlinearly oscillating acoustic cavitation bubbles are strongly influenced by the dissolved gas in the surrounding liquid. Changing the gas alters among others the luminescence spectrum, and the radical production of the collapsing bubbles. An overview of experiments with various gas types and concentration described in literature is given and is compared to mechanisms that lead to the observed changes in luminescence spectra and radical production. The dissolved gas type changes the bubble adiabatic ratio, thermal conductivity, and the liquid surface tension, and consequently the hot spot temperature. The gas can also participate in chemical reactions, which can enhance radical production or luminescence of a cavitation bubble. With this knowledge, the gas content in cavitation can be tailored to obtain the desired output.

Concepts: Chemical reaction, Fundamental physics concepts, Chemistry, Temperature, Liquid, Surface tension, Gas, Cavitation


Various industrial processes such as sonochemical processing and ultrasonic cleaning strongly rely on the phenomenon of acoustic cavitation. As the occurrence of acoustic cavitation is incorporating a multitude of interdependent effects, the amount of cavitation activity in a vessel is strongly depending on the ultrasonic process conditions. It is therefore crucial to quantify cavitation activity as a function of the process parameters. At 1 MHz, the active cavitation bubbles are so small that it is becoming difficult to observe them in a direct way. Hence, another metrology based on secondary effects of acoustic cavitation is more suitable to study cavitation activity. In this paper we present a detailed analysis of acoustic cavitation phenomena at 1 MHz ultrasound by means of time-resolved measurements of sonoluminescence, cavitation noise, and synchronized high-speed stroboscopic Schlieren imaging. It is shown that a correlation exists between sonoluminescence, and the ultraharmonic and broadband signals extracted from the cavitation noise spectra. The signals can be utilized to characterize different regimes of cavitation activity at different acoustic power densities. When cavitation activity sets on, the aforementioned signals correlate to fluctuations in the Schlieren contrast as well as the number of nucleated bubbles extracted from the Schlieren Images. This additionally proves that signals extracted from cavitation noise spectra truly represent a measure for cavitation activity. The cyclic behavior of cavitation activity is investigated and related to the evolution of the bubble populations in the ultrasonic tank. It is shown that cavitation activity is strongly linked to the occurrence of fast-moving bubbles. The origin of this “bubble streamers” is investigated and their role in the initialization and propagation of cavitation activity throughout the sonicated liquid is discussed. Finally, it is shown that bubble activity can be stabilized and enhanced by the use of pulsed ultrasound by conserving and recycling active bubbles between subsequent pulsing cycles.

Concepts: Acoustics, Ultrasound, Hertz, Sound, Sonar, Sonoluminescence, Sonochemistry, Cavitation


Acoustic cavitation plays an important role in sonochemical processes and the rate of sonochemical reaction is influenced by sonication parameters. There are several methods to evaluate cavitation activity such as chemical dosimetry. In this study, to comparison between iodide dosimetry and terephthalic acid dosimetry, efficacy of sonication parameters in reactive radical production has been considered by iodide and terephthalic acid dosimetries. For this purpose, efficacy of different exposure parameters on cavitations production by 1 MHz ultrasound has been studied. The absorbance of KI dosimeter was measured by spectrophotometer and the fluorescence of terephthalic acid dosimeter was measured using spectrofluorometer after sonication. The result of experiments related to sonication time and intensity showed that with increasing time of sonication or intensity, the absorbance is increased. It has been shown that the absorbance for continuous mode is remarkably higher than for pulsing mode (p-value < 0.05). Also results show that with increasing the duty cycles of pulsed field, the inertial cavitation activity is increased. With compensation of sonication time or intensity in different duty cycles, no significant absorbance difference were observed unless 20% duty cycle. A significant correlation between the absorbance and fluorescence intensities (count) at different intensity (R = 0.971), different sonication time (R = 0.999) and different duty cycle (R = 0.967) were observed (p-value < 0.05). It is concluded that the sonication parameters having important influences on reactive radical production. These results suggest that there is a correlation between iodide dosimetry and terephthalic acid dosimetry to examine the acoustic cavitation activity in ultrasound field.

Concepts: Spectroscopy, Light, Ultrasound, Hertz, Sound, Sonochemistry, Cavitation, Sonoporation


High intensity ultrasound can be used for the production of novel materials and provides an unusual route to known materials without bulk high temperatures, high pressures, or long reaction times. Several phenomena are responsible for sonochemistry and specifically the production or modification of nanomaterials during ultrasonic irradiation. The most notable effects are consequences of acoustic cavitation (the formation, growth, and implosive collapse of bubbles), and can be categorized as primary sonochemistry (gas-phase chemistry occurring inside collapsing bubbles), secondary sonochemistry (solution-phase chemistry occurring outside the bubbles), and physical modifications (caused by high-speed jets or shock waves derived from bubble collapse). This tutorial review provides examples of how the chemical and physical effects of high intensity ultrasound can be exploited for the preparation or modification of a wide range of nanostructured materials.

Concepts: Chemical reaction, Fluid dynamics, Chemistry, Acoustics, Ultrasound, Sonoluminescence, Sonochemistry, Cavitation


The aim of this study was to investigate the inertial cavitation inside a phantom treated by pulsed HIFU (pHIFU). Basic bovine serum albumin (BSA) phantoms without any inherent ultrasound contrast agents (UCAs) or phase-shift nano-emulsions (PSNEs) were used. During the treatment, sonoluminescence (SL) recordings were performed to characterize the spatial distribution of inertial cavitation adjacent to the focal region. High-speed photographs and thermal coagulations, comparing with the SL results, were also recorded and presented. A series of pulse parameters (pulse duration (PD) was between 1 and 23 cycles and pulse repetition frequency (PRF) was between 0.5kHz and 100kHz) were performed to make a systematic investigation under certain acoustic power (APW). Continuous HIFU (cHIFU) investigation was also performed to serve as control group. It was found that, when APW was 19.5W, pHIFU with short PD was much easier to form SL adjacent to the focal region inside the phantom, while it was difficult for cHIFU to generate cavitation bubbles. With appropriate PD and PRF, the residual bubbles of the previous pulses could be stimulated by the incident pulses to oscillate in a higher level and even violently collapse, resulting to enhanced physical thermogenesis. The experimental results showed that the most violent inertial cavitation occurs when PD was set to 6 cycles (5μs) and PRF to 10kHz, while the highest level of thermal coagulation was observed when PD was set to 10 cycles. The cavitational and thermal characteristics were in good correspondence, exhibiting significant potentiality regarding to inject-free cavitation bubble enhanced thermal ablation under lower APW, compared to the conventional thermotherapy.

Concepts: Pulse, Serum albumin, Acoustics, Ultrasound, Bovine serum albumin, Phantom, Sonoluminescence, Cavitation


The purpose of this study is to conduct modeling and simulation to understand the effect of shock-induced mechanical loading, in the form of cavitation bubble collapse, on damage to the brain’s perineuronal nets (PNNs). It is known that high-energy implosion due to cavitation collapse is responsible for corrosion or surface damage in many mechanical devices. In this case, cavitation refers to the bubble created by pressure drop. The presence of a similar damage mechanism in biophysical systems has long being suspected but not well-explored. In this paper, we use reactive molecular dynamics (MD) to simulate the scenario of a shock wave induced cavitation collapse within the perineuronal net (PNN), which is the near-neuron domain of a brain’s extracellular matrix (ECM). Our model is focused on the damage in hyaluronan (HA), which is the main structural component of PNN. We have investigated the roles of cavitation bubble location, shockwave intensity and the size of a cavitation bubble on the structural evolution of PNN. Simulation results show that the localized supersonic water hammer created by an asymmetrical bubble collapse may break the hyaluronan. As such, the current study advances current knowledge and understanding of the connection between PNN damage and neurodegenerative disorders.

Concepts: Fluid dynamics, Neurology, Simulation, Operations research, Simulation123, Knowledge, Shock wave, Cavitation


Structural evolution from monomer to fibril of amyloid β peptide is related to pathogenic mechanism of Alzheimer disease, and its acceleration is a long-running problem in drug development. This study reveals that ultrasonic cavitation bubbles behave as catalysts for nucleation of the peptide: The nucleation reaction is highly dependent on frequency and pressure of acoustic wave, and we discover an optimum acoustical condition, at which the reaction-rate constant for nucleation is increased by three-orders-of magnitudes. A theoretical model is proposed for explaining highly frequency and pressure dependent nucleation reaction, where monomers are captured on the bubble surface during its growth and highly condensed by subsequent bubble collapse, so that they are transiently exposed to high temperatures. Thus, the dual effects of local condensation and local heating contribute to dramatically enhance the nucleation reaction. Our model consistently reproduces the frequency and pressure dependences, supporting its essential applicability.

Concepts: Alzheimer's disease, Physics, Monomer, Wave, Acoustics, Sound, Condensation reaction, Cavitation


Focused ultrasound (FUS) in combination with microbubbles (MBs) has been successfully used in the delivery of various-size therapeutic agents across the blood-brain barrier (BBB). This study revealed that FUS-induced BBB opening size, defined by the size of the largest molecule that can permeate through the BBB, can be controlled by the acoustic pressure as dictated by cavitational mechanisms. Focused ultrasound was applied onto the mouse hippocampus in the presence of systemically administered MBs for trans-BBB delivery of fluorescently labeled dextrans with molecular weights 3 to 2,000 kDa (hydrodynamic diameter: 2.3 to 54.4 nm). The dextran delivery outcomes were evaluated using ex vivo fluorescence imaging. Cavitation detection was employed to monitor the MB cavitation activity associated with the delivery of these agents. It was found that the BBB opening size was smaller than 3 kDa (2.3 nm) at 0.31 MPa, up to 70 kDa (10.2 nm) at 0.51 MPa, and up to 2,000 kDa (54.4 nm) at 0.84 MPa. Relatively smaller opening size (up to 70 kDa) was achieved with stable cavitation only; however, inertial cavitation was associated with relatively larger BBB opening size (above 500 kDa). These findings indicate that the BBB opening size can be controlled by the acoustic pressure and predicted using cavitation detection.Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow & Metabolism advance online publication, 30 April 2014; doi:10.1038/jcbfm.2014.71.

Concepts: Molecule, Acoustics, Pressure, Sound pressure, Molecular mass, Sonar, Sonoluminescence, Cavitation