A high-speed imaging system for Acoustoelectrochemistry

Lead Research Organisation: University of Southampton
Department Name: School of Chemistry


Cavitation events are short-lived gas bubbles that occur under the correct physical conditions. In order to study these events high- speed cameras can be used to understand the dynamics of the interfaces involved and the effects they have of other sensors placed close to them. In this project two camera systems will be developed with the ability to acquire images at high rates (up to 400,000 frames per second). Under these conditions the cavitation events can be viewed in real time and their effects correlated with the data obtained from a number of different sensors placed within the local environment. These sensors will use, for example, electrochemical and acoustic technology to detect how the liquid around the bubble moves and the damage that the bubbles can do to a solid surface. This study will enable the true effects of cavitation, and related bubble phenomena, to be clarified. In addition these camera systems will be used to study the fast motion of aquatic organisms (for example the mantis shrimp) which are suspected to generate large cavitation bubbles as they attack their prey/defend themselves from other predators. Finally the cameras will be used to study the processes that occur at the gas/liquid interface of a breaking wave.


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Description This grant enables not only a set of academic investigations to be undertaken in detail, but enabled the understanding of new technologies (specifically a novel jet cleaning system) to be developed and move from the lab to deploy-able prototype stage. Findings on cavitation bubble dynamics (both inertial and non-inertial) where gained while the ability of such bubbles to clean and erode surfaces in a variety of geometries where explored. This is an ongoing set of projects and the grant has provided key equipment for many investigations within the group which has then go on to publishable and exploitable outcomes.
Exploitation Route Starstream has high potential for general surface cleaning in a variety of different arenas including nuclear decontamination and healthcare. Some of the work undertaken with the equipment has been used to develop a novel cleaning system (termed 'Starstream') which is under commercial development. Evaluation licenses and prototype systems have been undertaken and developed as appropriate.
Sectors Environment,Healthcare,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology

URL http://royalsociety.org/grants/case-studies/tim-leighton/
Description This grant was used to fund the purchase of a set of high-speed cameras, lenses and associated hardware. In turn this was used for a fundamental investigation of bubble dynamics and their excitation using suitable stimuli (for example acoustic excitation). These investigations were extremely useful in understanding and exploiting the fundamental mechanisms present and were used to develop a whole sweet of technologies designed to effectively clean flat and structured surfaces. The technologies are in the process of commercial exploitation, one of which is the 'Starstream' technology which shows high potential and has received further recognition through national awards.
First Year Of Impact 2008
Sector Environment,Healthcare,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Other
Impact Types Societal,Economic

Title NPL Licence 
Description Birkin P R, Vian C, Hanamanthu J and Leighton T G, Evaluation licence agreement for non-commercial use of a cavitation sensor (made 23 February 2010) Reference number 373990 (licensee: The National Physical laboratory). 
IP Reference  
Protection Protection not required
Year Protection Granted
Licensed Yes
Impact This part of the project was concerned with the possible exploitation of an erosion sensor for the characterization of cavitation. Although no direct commercial output has been gained, it still shows potential in this sector.
Title Ultrasonic Wave Device 
Description This represents the 'Starstream' project which is undergoing commercial exploitation. This technology is designed to clean a surface effectively without the need for high-speed jets or significant chemical input. 
IP Reference GB0914836.2 
Protection Patent application published
Year Protection Granted
Licensed Yes
Impact This has developed into a significant academic and industrial collaboration which is still ongoing