Scientists in Mexico have discovered how to detect heavy metals in water by using sound waves to levitate and analyze droplets in mid air. Isolating the droplet by this method allows the water to evaporate in a controlled position, which increases the mass concentration of contaminants.  This also makes it easier to perform a laser induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) to analyze and detect low concentrations of heavy metals such as lead and mercury.

What is special about this technique is that it could lead to instruments which could perform this analysis in real-time, as an on-site contaminant monitoring system.  By speeding up the detection process it could prevent future pollutant dilemmas, such as the Flint, Michigan water crisis.

According to research team leader Victor Contreras “This type of water analysis could be used by agricultural, pharmaceutical, water purification and other industries to monitor water for contaminants.”

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