Ultrasonicators for Forensic Investigations

  • Ultrasonic devices are used for two major applications in forensic labs: for extraction and cleaning.
  • Ultrasonic extraction is used to obtain targeted substances such as DNA, drug components or other active compounds.
  • Ultrasonic cleaning is an effective tool to remove residuals and depositions from subject-matter.

Ultrasonic devices are a standard tool in well-equipped analytical laboratories. For forensic investigations, ultrasonics is mostly used to extract substances and to clean surfaces and microcracks.

Ultrasonic Extraction

Ultrasonic devices are a proven tool to extract active compounds, traces and residues from sample material, such as tissue, hair, blood, bones, and plants. Common applications of ultrasonic lab devices include the extraction of DNA, proteins, and bioactive compounds such as drugs. Ultrasound is very effective to release cell-entrapped matter or bounded substances resulting in higher yields of extracts in shorter time. Its simple use as well as its reliability and reproducibility are major advantages of the ultrasound-assisted extraction technique. Click here to learn more about ultrasonic extraction!

Example: Extraction of Drug Residues

For forensic investigations, it is a recurrent task to test hair samples on residues of drugs. The extraction of drugs from hair is one of the most sensible steps of hair analysis as drugs are firmly enclosed in the hair structure and partly bound to proteins, melanin or lipids of the cell membrane complex. The extraction yield depends on the drug structure, the state of the hair matrix, pre-grinding steps, polarity of the solvent, and duration. The use of ultrasonics helps to assist higher extraction yields whilst reducing the treatment time. Therefore, ultrasound is a reliable method for the extraction applications in biological, clinical and forensic laboratories.
The graphic below displays the extraction yield obtained over a step-wise extraction of opiates (morphine, codeine, heroin, MAM) of a hair sample of a heroin fatality in methanol.

Ultrasound can be used for analytical applications in clinical and forensic laboratories. (Click to enlarge!)

Ultrasonic extraction of opiates from hair samples [Pragst 2004]

The brand new 200 watts ultrasonic lab devices UP200St and UP200Ht are powerful homogenizers for homogenization, emulsification, dispersing, deagglomeration, milling & grinding, extraction, lysis, disintegration, degassing, spraying, and sonochemical applications.

Sonicator UP200St with micro-tip for pre-analytical sample preparation

Ultrasonic Cleaning

UP100H with MS2 probe for ultrasonic cleaningUltrasonification is an excellent technique for the cleaning, conservation and restoration of metals, ceramics and other materials. The ultrasonic waves of an probe-type ultrasonic device allows for the precise removal of deposits from surfaces and small orifices. The mechanical cleaning forces of ultrasound can be applied with the sonotrode (probe) directly on surfaces and on small holes, (micro-)cracks and fissures removing unwanted crusts, debris, sediments or microbial contamination. Due to its exact and targeted application and its precise controllability of the ultrasonic intensity, ultrasonicators are not only used in forensic labs, but for the restoration and conservation of archeological findings, too. Easy handling and precisely controllable amplitudes ensure that a gentle yet effective cleaning is achieved.

This tutorial explains what type of sonicator is best for your sample preparation tasks such as lysis, cell disruption, protein isolation, DNA and RNA fragmentation in laboratories, analysis, and research. Choose the ideal sonicator type for your application, sample volume, sample number and throughput. Hielscher Ultrasonics has the ideal ultrasonic homogenizer for you!

How to Find the Perfect Sonicator for Cell Disruption and Protein Extraction in Science and Analysis

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The table below gives you an indication of the approximate processing capacity of our lab-size ultrasonicators:

Recommended DevicesBatch VolumeFlow Rate
UIP400MTP 96-Well Plate Sonicatormulti-well / microtiter platesn.a.
Ultrasonic CupHornCupHorn for vials or beakern.a.
GDmini2ultrasonic micro-flow reactorn.a.
VialTweeter0.5 to 1.5mLn.a.
UP100H1 to 500mL10 to 200mL/min
UP200Ht, UP200St10 to 1000mL20 to 200mL/min
UP400St10 to 2000mL20 to 400mL/min
Ultrasonic Sieve Shakern.a.n.a.

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Please use the form below to request additional information about ultrasonicator for sample prapration, application notes and prices. We will be glad to discuss your process with you and to offer you a sonicator fulfilling your requirements!

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VialTweeter for The Intense Sonication of Closed Vials

VialTweeter Sonicator for the Intense Sonication of Closed Vials


The work of forensic scientists and technicians include the examination and analysis of blood and hair samples, DNA, fingerprints, ballistics, hard drives, vehicles, toxins, controlled substances, blood splash patterns, trace marks and more. The obtained test results give important indications. This means, forensic laboratories provide objective evidence to help solve crimes, explain accidents and disasters for clients in law enforcement, government, and insurance companies.
The work areas of forensic laboratories branches out into the fields of criminalistics, botany, chemistry, dactyloscopy, DNA analysis, entomology, geology, limnology, pathology, podiatry, oxicology, serology, and toxicology.

Facts Worth Knowing

Ultrasonic tissue homogenizers are often referred to as probe sonicator/ sonificator, sonic lyser, ultrasound disruptor, ultrasonic grinder, sono-ruptor, sonifier, sonic dismembrator, cell disrupter, ultrasonic disperser, emulsifier or dissolver. The different terms result from the various applications that can be fulfilled by sonication.

VialTweeter at the ultrasonic processor UP200ST

VialTweeter sonicator for the simultaneous sonication of 10 samples, e.g. to isolate molecules

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