Ultrasonic characterization of single drops of liquids. The present invention includes the use of two closely spaced transducers, or one transducer and a closely spaced reflector plate, to form an interferometer suitable for ultrasonic characterization of droplet-size and smaller samples without the need for a container. The droplet is held between the interferometer elements, whose distance apart may be adjusted, by surface tension. The surfaces of the interferometer elements may be readily cleansed by a stream of solvent followed by purified air when it is desired to change samples. A single drop of liquid is sufficient for high-quality measurement. Examples of samples which may be investigated using the apparatus and method of the present invention include biological specimens (tear drops; blood and other body fluid samples; samples from tumors, tissues, and organs; secretions from tissues and organs; snake and bee venom, etc.) for diagnostic evaluation, samples in forensic investigations, and detection of drugs in small quantities.
The invention was made with government support under Contract No. W-7405-ENG-36 awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy to The Regents of the University of California. The government has certain rights in this invention.