We've known about the effectiveness of ultrasonic cleaning for years, but it only really works on objects that fit in a special bathtub that can generate ultrasonic waves. A team of scientists from the University of Southampton have come up with a faucet attachment that gives any stream of water the same magical cleaning power.
Ultrasonic cleaning works by creating lots of tiny little bubbles, which are apparently smart enough to go find all those little nooks and crannies that dirt likes to hide, creating a "powerful cleaning force." There's something about microscopic shear forces developing around bubble walls as they change their shape, but suffice it to say that ultrasonics can clean well enough that places like hospitals use it.
This new ultrasonic nozzle, pictured above, may look like little more than plastic spout stuck onto a tin can, but it's somehow able to embue a stream of ordinary tap water with ultrasonic awesomeness. High frequency sound waves and microbubbles travel down the water stream, and when the stream runs into something, it cleans just as effectively as an ultrasonic bath does. It works just fine with cold water, uses about as much energy as a light bulb, is adjustable for everything from washing hands to power scrubbing, and can be integrated into household faucets.
The University of Southampton research group was just awarded $400,000 to help get this technology from works in the lab to works in your house, and they've already started licensing it out to manufacturers.