Nav: Home

Thermophones offer new route to radically simplify array design, research shows

July 02, 2020

Scientists have pioneered a new technique to produce arrays of sound produced entirely by heat.

The team of researchers from the Centre for Metamaterial Research and Innovation at the University of Exeter used devices, known as thermophones, to create a fully controlled array from just a thin metal film attached to some metal wires.

The results, published in Science Advances, could pave the way for a new generation of sound technology, including home cinema systems.

Traditionally, arrays have been used in a host of every day applications, including ultrasound and sound systems. Arrays allow sounds from several sources to be 'steered' in a certain direction, to gain greater control and clarity of the sound produced.

Conventional speaker arrays rely on the production of sound through driven movement of some object - such as a speaker cone. The new study, however, pioneers arrays of speakers that produce sound entirely by heat: thermophones.

Although thermophones have been in existence for more than 100 years, they have, until now, had limited real-world application. However, they have a host of advantages from their mechanical counterparts - including no moving parts and the ability to be mass produced from inexpensive, sustainable materials.

Crucially, they can even be made transparent and flexible, which is desirable for the new wave of flexible technologies being produced.

For the study, the researchers found that, when combined into an array, thermophones are able to reproduce the same control over sound fields as traditional arrays.

However, they do much more than this: as they are driven by electrical currents, the sound they produce mirrors the subtle movement of the current carriers as they flow through the device and, as a result, they create a much richer sound field than traditional arrays.

The researchers suggest that the study opens a route to radically simplify array design, showing that with thermophone technology, it is possible to create a fully controlled array from nothing more than a thin metal film attached to some metal wires.

David Tatnell, lead author of the study and a PhD researchers at the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Metamaterials said: "Using heat to produce sound is a game changer as it allows us to make speaker arrays smaller than ever before. This, as well as the ability to make the speakers flexible and transparent, has a lot of exciting potential applications, such as haptic feedback systems in smartphones and other wearables."
-end-
Coupling and confinement of current in thermoacoustic phased arrays is published in Science Advances on July 1st 2020.

University of Exeter

Related Sound Articles:

Even if you want to, you can't ignore how people look or sound
Your perceptions of someone you just met are influenced in part by what they look like and how they sound.
Shaking light with sound
Combining integrated photonics and MEMS technology, scientists from EPFL and Purdue University demonstrate monolithic piezoelectric control of integrated optical frequency combs with bulk acoustic waves.
A sound treatment
University of Utah biomedical engineering assistant professor Jan Kubanek has discovered that sound waves of high frequency (ultrasound) can be emitted into a patient's brain to alter his or her state.
Cooling magnets with sound
Today, most quantum experiments are carried out with the help of light, including those in nanomechanics, where tiny objects are cooled with electromagnetic waves to such an extent that they reveal quantum properties.
how the brain distinguishes between voice and sound
Is the brain capable of distinguishing a voice from phonemes?
How blindness shapes sound processing
Adults who lost their vision at an early age have more refined auditory cortex responses to simple sounds than sighted individuals, according to new neuroimaging research published in JNeurosci.
Birds' surprising sound source
Birds, although they have larynges, use a different organ to sing.
It's a one-way street for sound waves in this new technology
Imagine being able to hear people whispering in the next room, while the raucous party in your own room is inaudible to the whisperers.
Sound changes the way rodents sense touch
Researchers at the Nara Institute of Science and Technology (NAIST) report how the somatosensory cortex interprets tactile and auditory stimulation in mice and rats.
Stop -- hey, what's that sound?
In a new study, researchers were able to see where in the brain, and how quickly -- in milliseconds -- the brain's neurons transition from processing the sound of speech to processing the language-based words of the speech.
More Sound News and Sound Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Warped Reality
False information on the internet makes it harder and harder to know what's true, and the consequences have been devastating. This hour, TED speakers explore ideas around technology and deception. Guests include law professor Danielle Citron, journalist Andrew Marantz, and computer scientist Joy Buolamwini.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#576 Science Communication in Creative Places
When you think of science communication, you might think of TED talks or museum talks or video talks, or... people giving lectures. It's a lot of people talking. But there's more to sci comm than that. This week host Bethany Brookshire talks to three people who have looked at science communication in places you might not expect it. We'll speak with Mauna Dasari, a graduate student at Notre Dame, about making mammals into a March Madness match. We'll talk with Sarah Garner, director of the Pathologists Assistant Program at Tulane University School of Medicine, who takes pathology instruction out of...
Now Playing: Radiolab

How to Win Friends and Influence Baboons
Baboon troops. We all know they're hierarchical. There's the big brutish alpha male who rules with a hairy iron fist, and then there's everybody else. Which is what Meg Crofoot thought too, before she used GPS collars to track the movements of a troop of baboons for a whole month. What she and her team learned from this data gave them a whole new understanding of baboon troop dynamics, and, moment to moment, who really has the power.  This episode was reported and produced by Annie McEwen. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.