Automating Bayesian inference and design to quantify acoustic particle levitation†
Self-propulsion of micro- and nanoparticles powered by ultrasound provides an attractive strategy for the remote manipulation of colloidal matter using biocompatible energy inputs. Quantitative understanding of particle motion and its dependence on size, shape, and composition requires accurate characterization of the acoustic field, which depends sensitively on the experimental setup. Here, we show how automated experiments based on Bayesian inference and design can accurately and efficiently characterize the acoustic field within resonant chambers used to propel acoustic nanomotors. Repeated cycles of observation, inference, and design (OID) are guided by a physical model that describes the rate at which levitating particles approach the nodal plane. Using video microscopy, we observe the relaxation of tracer particles to this plane following the application of the acoustic field. We use sequential Monte Carlo methods to infer model parameters such as the amplitude and frequency of the resonant chamber while accounting for particle-level measurement noise and population-level heterogeneity in the field. Guided by simulated outcomes, we select the optimal design for the next experiment as to maximize the information gain in the relevant parameters. We show how this iterative process serves to discriminate between competing hypotheses and efficiently converges to accurate parameter estimates using only few automated experiments. We discuss the need for model criticism to ensure the validity of the guiding model throughout automated cycles of observation, inference, and design. This work demonstrates how Bayesian methods can learn the parameters of nonlinear, hierarchical models used to describe video microscopy data of active colloids.