HomeNewsInaugual lecture Michel Versluis: Droplets and bubbles on the waves of sound

Inaugual lecture Michel Versluis: Droplets and bubbles on the waves of sound 21 May: Speech of prof. dr. Michel Versluis, professor in Physical and Medical Acoustics (MIRA/MESA+)

A minuscule bubble that lands on a blood clot that is preventing the supply of oxygen to the brains, which you can subsequently use to destroy the clot using ultrasound. Or ultra tiny droplets that attach themselves to a tumour and administer chemotherapy locally, without any harmful side effects in the rest of the body. Far off in the future? Not if physicist Michel Versluis has anything to do with it. It won't be easy, but all the basic ingredients are already available. On 21 May Versluis will hold his inaugural speech at the University of Twente.

Minuscule droplets and bubbles can be used in all sorts of fields in the medical world. Imagine bubbles capable of capturing images of the heart circulation real time, or droplets for focusing chemotherapy on a tumour and droplets of medicine that are sprayed directly from an inhalator deep into the tiniest alveoli in the lung. They also play a crucial role in inkjet printing and the production of semi-conductor chips. However, making effective use of the droplets and bubbles demands fundamental knowledge of how to make them in a controlled environment, how they behave and how you can follow and manipulate them. This is the field of work of UT professor, Michel Versluis, who will hold his inaugural speech on 21 May at the University of Twente.


During his speech Versluis will ask why we have not yet succeeded in getting a bubble to accurately land on a blood clot in the human body. While scientists did recently succeed in getting Rosetta, a comet-lander, to land on a comet the size of a fridge that is spinning at the speed of a hundred kilometres an hour at a distance of one billion kilometres from here. The scale differences between the comet-lander and the comet and those of the droplet and the blood clot are similar, and the body is, moreover, much more accessible.

One of the difficulties is the fact that the bubbles and droplets move extremely fast, which makes them very difficult to follow. Even the fastest camera in the world, that is partly developed at the UT, and which is capable of making twenty-five million images per second, is not capable of following the particles. This means we have to develop new technology in order to measure with nanometre precision, on a time-scale of nano-seconds. An additional problem is that it is even more difficult to obtain good images of small structures in the body, such as tumours, because their structure and texture is so very similar to the surroundings tissue. This is why Versluis is working on new ultrasound technology so that this will be possible.

Close cooperation

He is convinced, in fact, that within the foreseeable future it will be possible to get a bubble to land on a blood clot. After all, the basic ingredients are already available. It does demand close cooperation between fundamental scientists such as Versluis and engineers, technologists, mechanical engineers, electrical engineers, biomeds, the world of commerce and, of course, doctors, medical technologists and technological medical experts. At the University of Twente Versluis found this multidisciplinary cooperation.

Versluis's inaugural speech

Michel Versluis is professor in Physical and Medical Acoustics within the department of Physics of Fluids. His research is part of the UT's research institutes MIRA and MESA+. On 21 May, at 16:00 hours, he will hold his inaugural speech, which will be open to the public, in the Prof. ir. M.P. Breedveld room in the De Waaier building on the University of Twente campus. Please register here (registration closed).