Acoustic bubble sorting for ultrasound contrast agent enrichment

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An ultrasound contrast agent (UCA) suspension contains encapsulated microbubbles with a wide size distribution, with radii ranging from 1 to 10 μm. Medical transducers typically operate at a single frequency, therefore only a small selection of bubbles will resonate to the driving ultrasound pulse. Thus, the sensitivity can be improved by narrowing down the size distribution. Here, we present a simple lab-on-a-chip method to sort the population of microbubbles on-chip using a traveling ultrasound wave. First, we explore the physical parameter space of acoustic bubble sorting using well-defined bubble sizes formed in a flow-focusing device, then we demonstrate successful acoustic sorting of a commercial UCA. This novel sorting strategy may lead to an overall improvement of the sensitivity of contrast ultrasound by more than 10 dB.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1705-1714
Number of pages10
JournalLab on a chip
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 7 Feb 2014


  • METIS-302481
  • IR-90432


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