Sonication is a process which applies sound energy (normally ultrasonic waves) to a solution to agitate its particles. It has many applications in several industries such as chemical, pharmaceutical or cosmetic industries, but also in research.
In biological applications, sonication is used to disrupt or deactivate a biological material. For instance, to disrupt cell membranes and release cellular contents into the solution. In the following image, there is an example of a sonicator for biology applications.
Figure 1. Sonicator. The operation console controls different parameters such as sound waves frequency or time. The probe will be immersed into the sample and generate the sound waves. Normally, this process generates heat, which could not be good in biological samples. Therefore, they are normally placed on ice to minimize the heating.