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The University of Southampton
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Dr Peter Glynne-Jones PhD

Associate Professor (EPSRC Fellow)

Dr Peter Glynne-Jones

I am passionate about research into the manipulation of microscopic particles using the forces generated by ultrasonic waves. My teaching interests centre around electronics and project based learning.

In recent years I have worked closely with biologists and clinicians and become inspired to use ultrasound to solve problems they face in creating structures of cells outside of the body, and to design new microfluidic systems for detecting diseases.  I also use acoustic manipulation to create new and powerful imaging systems for imaging human cells and plankton from ocean samples.  I also enjoy the creative challenge of designing new kinds of particle manipulation device and studying the underlying physics of acoustic tweezing.

Ultrasonic levitation awakens curiosity about science and technology in both the young and old. I have created an interactive exhibit that I have taken to events including the Royal Society Summer Exhibition, Cheltenham Science Festival, Glastonbury Science tent, and many other venues. I am also interested in the interface between Science / Engineering and the Arts.

I graduated in Electronics and Computer Science at the University of Southampton, and was an IET scholar. During my 2001 Ph.D., "Vibration powered generators for self-powered microsystems", I created the world’s first piezoelectric vibration energy harvester, and was a key part of the recent dramatic growth of interest in energy harvesting. My designs also led to the spin-off company Perpetuum. I was supported by a prestigious EPSRC early career fellowship between 2015 and 2021.  I am currently President of the Acoustofluidics Society which shapes research and brings together the international researcher research community.


Ultrasonic particle manipulation

When small particles such as human cells or bacteria are placed in an ultrasonic sound field, they experience a force that can be used to move them around.

By carefully controlling that field it is possible to manipulate thousands of cells at once, creating an acoustic tweezers (or 'sonotweezers'). This ability to precisely position such tiny objects opens up many exciting applications that would be difficult using other technologies such as optical tweezers that can only manipulate a much smaller number of particles simultaneously.

In my research I focus on two main application areas: tissue engineering and bio-detection systems.

Tissue engineering

The vision of freely available replacements for ageing and diseased tissues, and replacing animal with in-vitro tissue models motivates this research.

While individual cells are routinely cultured, engineering complex structures remains a significant challenge for modern medicine.  Ultrasonic fields can be used to manipulate large numbers of biological cells with precision, and offer exciting possibilities for both tissue engineering and diagnostic technologies that could benefit millions of people. 

Engineering new cartilage, visit the full article on New Scientist website.

Biodetection systems

The ultrasonic forces can also be used to manipulate bacteria, typically pushing them against sensor surfaces or enhancing their concentration to make detection more reliable. We have recently demonstrated this as part of the European funded AQUALITY project, aimed at detecting bacteria in drinking water.

The principle is similar to the ultrasonic sorting device shown in the video and diagram below, which can distinguish between particles that reflect differing amounts of ultrasound. Here we show fluorescent polystyrene micro-beads sorted by size. A "sheath flow" is used to align all the particles at the bottom of the chamber, and as they flow through the active region the larger, green beads are pushed to the top of the channel to be collected at a separate outlet. This can be seen in the video which is taken through a microscope looking down outlet 1 through the transparent glass layer that forms the top of the device.

Fluorescent polystyrene micro-beads sorted by size using ultrasound
Ultrasonic sorting device

Investigating acoustic forces

Ultrasonic manipulation is a complex, non-linear phenomenon. We investigate the underlying mechanisms of both the radiation forces and the acoustic streaming that often accompany it. We also pioneer new types of device including creating more dextrous sonotweezers.

Designs for Dr Glynne-Jones's generators have been taken up by companies worldwide
Tapered piezoelectric generator

Energy harvesting

Previously I have developed vibration energy harvesting. Here, I investigated ways of extracting small amounts of energy from vibrations present around a device, with the aim of creating a wireless sensor node. This can be used, for example, to monitor the health of machinery in large industrial complexes where changing batteries, or installing large quantities of wiring is impractical. My designs were taken up by the spin-out company, Perpetuum, that has grown to be a world leader since it was founded in 2004. My tapered piezoelectric generator designs have also been taken up by a range of companies worldwide.


Research group

Mechatronics Engineering Group

Research project(s)

Application of ultrasound standing wave fields for augmentation of cartilage bioengineering strategies

Application of novel acoustic trapping perfusion bioreactor to generate 3-D co-culture system for modelling tumour microenvironment interactions

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Book Chapters



Peter is the Mechatronics theme leader for the Mechanical Engineering undergraduate programme, and offers a range of projects in this area at undergraduate, masters and PhD level.



Module title Module code Discipline Role
Electrical and Electronics Systems FEEG1004 Engineering Sciences Lecturer
Processing for Condition Monitoring SESG6027 Engineering Sciences Lecturer


Dr Peter Glynne-Jones
Engineering, University of Southampton, Highfield, Southampton. SO17 1BJ United Kingdom

Room Number : 7/5043/M7

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