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IEEE Trans Ultrason Ferroelectr Freq Control. 2009 May;56(5):1006-17. doi: 10.1109/TUFFC.2009.1132.

The role of inertial cavitation in acoustic droplet vaporization.

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Department of Radiology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA.


The vaporization of a superheated droplet emulsion into gas bubbles using ultrasound--termed acoustic droplet vaporization (ADV)--has potential therapeutic applications in embolotherapy and drug delivery. The optimization of ADV for therapeutic applications can be enhanced by understanding the physical mechanisms underlying ADV, which are currently not clearly elucidated. Acoustic cavitation is one possible mechanism. This paper investigates the relationship between ADV and inertial cavitation (IC) thresholds (measured as peak rarefactional pressures) by studying parameters that are known to influence the IC threshold. These parameters include bulk fluid properties such as gas saturation, temperature, viscosity, and surface tension; droplet parameters such as degree of superheat, surfactant type, and size; and acoustic properties such as pulse repetition frequency and pulse width. In all cases the ADV threshold occurred at a lower rarefactional pressure than the IC threshold, indicating that the phase transition occurs before IC events. The viscosity and temperature of the bulk fluid are shown to influence both thresholds directly and inversely, respectively. An inverse trend is observed between threshold and diameter for droplets in the 1 to 2.5 microm range. Based on a choice of experimental parameters, it is possible to achieve ADV with or without IC.

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