At the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory, scientists have been experimenting with sound waves and pharmaceutical solutions, levitating soluble drops between two speakers facing each other. While their research has produced some visually fascinating results, it has also led to the discovery of a far more effective method for creating amorphous drugs, which happen to be the more desirable of two forms that pharmaceutical drugs can take.
The study's lead scientist, X-ray physicist Chris Benmore, says, "One of the biggest challenges when it comes to drug development is in reducing the amount of the drug needed to attain the therapeutic benefit, whatever it is" and amorphous drugs, as opposed to crystalline drugs, allows a patient to take a lower dosage of any given medication with it performing at the same effective level of treatment because more of it gets absorbed by the body.
So, he sought to evaporate the solution without exposing it to surface contact because that would most often result in a crystalline form. As a solution, Benmore thought to use an acoustic levitator, typically used by NASA for microgravity simulations. Once the two speakers are turned on at about 22 kilohertz (just above our audible range), each drop of solution is placed at different levels for amorphous preparation. Though only a few drops can be prepared at a time through this process, it is only the beginning stages of efficient amorphous drug development.