In a new study, published on November 1, in Physical Review Research, scientists have showed that the stress created by surface waves is enough to shatter kidney stones.
The research follows earlier experiments, which resulted in scientists finding out why -- even though raindrops weigh almost nothing -- they can create ring-shaped cracks in jet planes as they fly through rain forests, reported Phys.Org.
In the earlier experiment, Professors Frank Philip Bowden and John Field of the University of Cambridge came to the conclusion that surface waves are the reason behind the phenomenon.
According to the report, since surface waves spread in a two dimensional manner, they pack a far greater force than their three-dimensional counterparts.
Now, in the new study, study authors Pei Zhing and Ying Zhang have tried to cover the gaps of the earlier study.
Accordingly, they created a system where they were able to see the stress created by the surface waves.
The study authors made use of a lithotripsy device, which according to John Hopkins Medicine website is used to treat kidney stone that are too large to pass through the urinary tract.
They put it in a vat of water covered with a sheet of glass and then let off a point-source explosion that expanded as a spherical shock wave.
According to Phys.Org, the scientists saw that depending on the angle at which the shockwaves hit the glass, it produced waves that spread across the water-glass boundary.
The team used a high-speed camera and measured the speed of the shock wave and using those measurements, Zhang manage to create a finite element model using scientific means.
Researchers found that the models successfully reproduced the characteristics of surface waves, including one that may actually save people needing surgery to remove kidney stones.
According to the report, they found that the leaky Rayleigh wave propagates much faster than the evanescent wave, even though they are created at the same moment. They further found that the circular cracks only appear if there is an existing imperfection, but one initiated follows the circular trajectory.
Speaking about it Zhang revealed that the challenge for treating kidney stones is to reduce the stones to fine fragments so that no secondary procedures are needed. Zhong finally added that through the success of the model, they might be able to optimise the shock waves shape and lithotripsy device design to create better tension on the surface of the kidney stones and treat it more efficiently.