Acoustic streaming is the steady flow of a fluid that is caused by the propagation of sound through that fluid. The fluid flow in acoustic streaming is generated by a nonlinear, time-averaged effect that results from the spatial and temporal variations in a pressure field. When there is an oscillating body submerged in the fluid, such as a cavitation bubble, vorticity is generated on the boundary layer on its surface, resulting in microstreaming. Although the effects are generated at the microscale, microstreaming can have a profound influence on the fluid mechanics of ultrasound/acoustic processing systems, which are of high interest to sonochemistry, sonoprocessing, and acoustophoretic applications. The effects of microstreaming have been evaluated over the years using carefully controlled experiments that identify and quantify the fluid motion at a small scale. This mini-review article overviews the historical development of acoustic streaming, shows how microstreaming behaves, and provides an update on new numerical and experimental studies that seek to explore and improve our understanding of microstreaming.
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