High frequency vibration ( ~ 20 kHz) at the tip of an ultrasonication probe leads to cavitation, and shock waves thus produced cause cell disruption. The method can be very effective on a small scale, but a number of serious drawbacks make it unsuitable for large-scale operations. Power requirements are high, there is a large heating effect so cooling is needed, the probes have a short working life and are only effective over a short range. Continuous laboratory sonicators with hold-up volumes of around 10 cm3 have been shown to be effective (James et al., 1972).
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