Acoustics and Sensors Team

About

We solve challenging technical problems for the industry and the US government, typically involving noninvasive characterization of fluids and acoustic manipulation of materials. Our solutions focus on novel applications of acoustics, but also draw from advances in multiple disciplines.

Our portfolio of existing technologies exploits the interactions between sound and matter using resonance techniques. Low power ultrasonic resonance is used to probe the physical properties of a material, whereas high power ultrasound is employed in manipulating materials.

Research

We have developed a portfolio of new sensors and techniques to meet industry needs and fill technological gaps.

Technical Challenge: The US government needed a noninvasive sensor to identify chemical warfare compounds and highly toxic chemicals inside sealed containers accurately and rapidly.

Solution: We developed the Acoustic Resonance Spectroscopy (ARS) and the Swept Frequency Acoustic Interferometry (SFAI) technique to noninvasively identify such chemicals accurately and in matter of seconds. The SFAI technique allowed determination of multiple physical properties of any fluid with a single measurement with very high accuracy.

diagram of ARS
Portable instrument developed for the noninvasive identification of chemicals inside sealed containers
Multiphase flow sensor
SFAI based inline multiphase sensor spool is shown near the top (yellow bracket).

Technical Challenge: The Chevron Corporation needed a sensor system to determine composition and flow of multiphase (oil/water/gas) hydrocarbons from oil/gas wells continuously and accurately. The existing instruments were either too expensive or had many limitations that did not fulfil the requirements.

Solution: The SFAI technique developed earlier for noninvasive identification of chemical weapons was a good starting point but required extensive modifications and enhancements to be applicable in the case of flowing multiphase fluids. The measurement also needed to be speeded up by four orders of magnitude. We developed a frequency-chirp technique that provided both real-time composition and flow measurement; this has been developed and extensively tested and validated in the field prior to commercialization.

Technical challenge: The US government needed a way to enhance the sensitivity of existing instruments to identify air-borne particulate matter. It needed to be simple, low maintenance, and used low power.

Solution: We developed an acoustic concentration approach with no moving parts that used the radiation force of sound to concentrate air-borne particulate matter in a continuous manner. This approach opened up a host of new possibilities and led to a large number of applications from acoustic flow cytometer for biological cell identification (commercial product by Life Sciences) to acoustic oil-water separation to acoustically engineered materials.

Acoustic concentration setup
Flowing 10 micron particles are concentrated along the axis in a line-driven glass tube using acoustic radiation force.
Borehole monitor
On the left, the low-frequency collimated beam is shown. On right, the setup for 360 degree (azimuthal) imaging is illustrated. A rotating mirror rotates the beam around while a vertical array of sensors above detects the scattered and reflected signal from outside the borehole. The image is created from this data.

Technical challenge: The Chevron Corporation needed a way to the image the environment outside a borehole to monitor borehole integrity and other features.

Solution: The team used nonlinear acoustics and Fluorinert to create a collimated acoustic source with a frequency range 10-120 kHz and used this for imaging purposes. This frequency range provided some unique possibilities that were not realizable with either existing low frequency seismic sources or very high frequency (~ 1 MHz) sources. This frequency range provided the required depth penetration of several feet and spatial resolution of ~ 1 mm. In addition, several other types of collimated sources were developed that used acoustic metamaterials and a novel linear (axial) array source for use in boreholes.

This technique was also adapted for Chevron to develop a 3D acoustic imaging system to image objects submerged in optically opaque and acoustically highly attenuating fluids, such as drilling mud. There are many other uses of this imaging technique in other areas of technology including biomedical.

Team

Our team consists of physicists and engineers who enjoy working on multidisciplinary projects and problem solving. We have a strong connection with industry and put a strong emphasis on invention and commercialization of technology in addition to carrying out basic research.

We employ postdoctoral fellows who are experimentalists with background in applied physics, signal processing, acoustics, wave propagation, nondestructive testing, materials and sensors. Our team is part of the Materials and Applications Division at LANL that has extensive capabilities in the areas of materials science and nanotechnology.

Former Members:

  • Dr. Greg Kaduchak, Director, Life Sciences, Oregon
  • Dr. Curtis Osterhoudt – University of Alaska, Anchorage
  • Dr. Farid Mitri – Senior Scientist, Chevron
  • Dr. Bart Raeymaekers (First Entrepreneurial Fellow at LANL) - Univ. of Utah (Asst. Prof.)
  • Dr. Greg Goddard – FCP Engineer at Philips, Bothell, WA
  • Dr. Brian Anthony - Director, Manufacturing Systems Technology Program, MIT
  • Dr. Wei Han – Acoustic Scientist, Baker Hughes, Houston, Texas
  • Dr. Chis Kwiatkowski - IAT-2 (LANL)
  • Dr. Alicia Garcia-Lopez - AET-2 (LANL)
  • Dr. Christopher Dudley – Life Technologies, Oregon
  • Dr. John Brady – Research Scientist at Dynetics, Huntsville, AL
  • Scott MacIntosh, President – Black Cat Science, Boston
  • Roger Hasse, Senior Research Engineer - Georgia Tech Research Institute
  • Brandon Shibley, Computer Scientist, Naval Undersea Warfare Center, Seattle
  • Kerry Cone – Staff Engineer, John Deere, East Moline, IL
  • Dr. Alexander Shulim Kogan, retired
  • More than a dozen other students

Join our team

Contact

Contact: Dr. Dipen N. Sinha, Laboratory Fellow

Address: MPA-11, D429, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, NM 87545

E-mail: sinha@lanl.gov