SonoTweezer: An acoustically-powered end-effector for underwater micromanipulation

Sumit Mohanty, Robbert Jan Fidder, Pedro M. Matos, Christoff M. Heunis, Mert Kaya, Nathan Blanken, Sarthak Misra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
36 Downloads (Pure)


Recent advances in contactless micromanipulation strategies have revolutionized prospects of robotic manipulators as next-generation tools for minimally invasive surgeries. In particular, acoustically powered phased arrays offer dexterous means of manipulation both in air and water. Inspired by these phased arrays, we present SonoTweezer: a compact, low-power, and lightweight array of immersible ultrasonic transducers capable of trapping and manipulation of sub-mm sized agents underwater. Based on a parametric investigation with numerical pressure field simulations, we design and create a six-transducer configuration, which is small compared to other reported multi-transducer arrays (16-256 elements). Despite the small size of array, SonoTweezer can reach pressure magnitudes of 300 kPa at a low supply voltage of 25 V to the transducers, which is in the same order of absolute pressure as multi-transducer arrays. Subsequently, we exploit the compactness of our array as an end-effector tool for a robotic manipulator to demonstrate long-range actuation of sub-millimeter agents over a hundred times the agent's body length. Furthermore, a phase-modulation over its individual transducers allows our array to locally maneuver its target agents at sub-mm steps. The ability to manipulate agents underwater makes SonoTweezer suitable for clinical applications considering water's similarity to biological media, e.g., vitreous humor and blood plasma. Finally, we show trapping and manipulation of micro-agents under medical ultrasound (US) imaging modality. This application of our actuation strategy combines the usage of US waves for both imaging and micromanipulation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)988-997
Number of pages10
JournalIEEE Transactions on Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics, and Frequency Control
Issue number3
Early online date6 Jan 2022
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jan 2022


  • Acoustic arrays
  • Acoustic levitation
  • Acoustics
  • End effectors
  • Frequency control
  • Haptics
  • Medical robotics
  • Microrobots
  • Phased arrays
  • Pressure measurement
  • Robotic manipulators
  • Transducers
  • Ultrasonics
  • Ultrasound imaging
  • Waterborne
  • 22/1 OA procedure


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