Ultrasonic forces may be used to manipulate particles in suspension. For example, a standing wave ultrasound (US) field applied to a suspension moves the particles toward areas of minimal acoustic pressure, where they are orderly retained creating a predictable heterogeneous distribution. This principle of ultrasonic retention of particles or cells has been applied in numerous biotechnological applications, such as mammalian cell filtering and red blood cell sedimentation. Here, a new US-based cell immobilisation technique is described that allows manipulation and positioning of cells/particles within various nontoxic gel matrices before polymerisation. Specifically, gel immobilisation was used to directly demonstrate that the viability of yeast cells arranged by an US standing wave is maintained up to 4 days after treatment. The versatility of this immobilisation method was validated using a wide range of acoustic devices. Finally, the potential biotechnological advantages of this US-controlled particle positioning method combined with gel immobilisation/encapsulation technology are discussed. © 2004 World Federation for Ultrasound in Medicine & Biology.
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