LilaG writes: Drugmakers rely on many analytical instruments when they screen for potential drug candidates. Now they may want to invest in headphones, Chemical & Engineering News reports. Researchers at Australia’s University of Queensland have developed a sensor that uses the sound generated by a vibrating crystal to measure properties of common drugs (abstract). The sensor’s quartz crystal microbalance can measure candidate drugs’ pKa, or acid dissociation constant, and partition coefficient, or affinity for fats. Since these characteristics help predict how well the body absorbs molecules, the acoustic sensor may offer a new way for drug developers to quickly assess candidate molecules.