Written by Linda Alexander
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Ultrasonics is the study and application of the energy of high-frequency sound waves. Frequencies greater than 20,000 cycles per second, beyond the range of human hearing, are called ultrasonic. Ultrasonics has wide uses in various industries.

Because humans can't hear ultrasonic waves, they have little or no effect on the ear even at high intensities. They are usually produced by a transducer with a quartz-crystal oscillator that converts electricity into ultrasonic waves. Ultrasonics is used for testing objects--variation in velocity or echo of the waves indicates a flaw in the object. It's also used for cleaning.

How Ultrasonics Are Used in Cleaning

Machine parts, ball bearings, and surgical instruments are often cleaned ultrasonically. They are placed in a liquid detergent solution or a solvent, then ultrasonic waves are brought in. The alternating high and low pressure caused by the waves cause bubbles in the liquid to implode, releasing energy and removing contaminants from the surfaces of the objects.

Ultrasonic waves are used in the medical industry to examine internal organs without surgery and are safer than X-rays. Metals can also be welded together with ultrasound. The molecules are stimulated into a rearranged crystalline form, causing a permanent bond. Ultrasound is also used in dog whistles--humans can't hear them, but dogs can.

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