Nav: Home

Riding the wave: Pioneering research tames nanoquakes

August 02, 2017

Researchers from the University of Exeter have pioneered a new technique to control high frequency sound waves, commonly found within everyday devices such as mobile phones.

The research team, led by Professor Geoff Nash from the University of Exeter, have created a new structure that can manipulate the extreme frequency sound waves - also known as surface acoustic waves or 'nanoquakes' , as they run across the surface of a solid material in a similar manner to earthquake tremors on land.

Although surface acoustic waves (SAWs) form a key component of a host of technologies, they have proved extremely difficult to control with any degree of accuracy. Now, the team from the Natural Sciences department at the University of Exeter have developed a new type of structure, known as a ' phononic crystal,' which when patterned into a device, can be used to steer and guide the nanoquakes,

The research is published in leading science journal, Nature Communications, on August 2, 2017.

Professor Nash , lead author of the research said: "Surface acoustic wave devices are already found in a myriad of technologies, including radar systems and chemical sensing, but are increasingly being developed for applications such as lab-on-a-chip.

"Lab-on-a-chip approaches shrink conventional chemistry and biology laboratories to the size of a few millimetres, and SAWs in these systems can be used to transport and mix chemicals, or to carry out biological functions such as cell sorting.

"Yet until now, it has been extremely hard to make a structure such as ours that can be used to easily direct surface acoustic waves. Our new phononic crystal design is able to control the nanoquakes with just a handful of crystal elements, making it much easier to produce than those previously demonstrated.

"We are confident that these results will pave the way for the next generation of novel SAW device concepts, such as lab-on-a-chip biosensors, that rely on the control and manipulation of SAW nanoquakes. Even more remarkably, it has also been proposed that these structures could be scaled-up to provide protection from earth quakes."

The innovative study began as an undergraduate project with students Benjamin Ash and Sophie Worsfold, who are two of the four authors of the research paper. Ben is now studying for a PhD at Exeter with Professor Peter Vukusic, the final author of the paper, and Professor Nash within the Exeter EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Metamaterials.

Sophie said: ""Working with Geoff and his group for my undergraduate project was one of my favourite parts of my degree. Although I'm now training to be an actuary, I use many of the skills I learned day to day in my role, and the independence and confidence I gained have proved to be invaluable in pursuing my career. I'm incredibly excited to have been part of this ground-breaking research."

Professor Nash, who is Director of Natural Sciences at Exeter added: "Having moved to Exeter from industry relatively recently, it has been absolutely fantastic to be able to involve our brilliant undergraduates in my research. They bring energy, enthusiasm and a different perspective, and make a real and extremely valuable contribution to the research of my group.
-end-
Natural Sciences at Exeter is an innovative flagship programme designed to explore the scientific concepts needed to explain the natural world, from the nanoscale to the complex systems of the Earth's climate and our solar system.

University of Exeter

Related Research Articles:


Related Research Reading:

A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations, Eighth Edition: Chicago Style for Students and Researchers (Chicago Guides to Writing, Editing, and Publishing)
by Kate L. Turabian (Author), Wayne C. Booth (Editor), Gregory G. Colomb (Editor), Joseph M. Williams (Editor), University of Chicago Press Staff (Editor)

A little more than seventy-five years ago, Kate L. Turabian drafted a set of guidelines to help students understand how to write, cite, and formally submit research writing. Seven editions and more than nine million copies later, the name Turabian has become synonymous with best practices in research writing and style. Her Manual for Writers continues to be the gold standard for generations of college and graduate students in virtually all academic disciplines. Now in its eighth edition, A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations has been fully revised to... View Details


The Craft of Research, Fourth Edition (Chicago Guides to Writing, Editing, and Publishing)
by Wayne C. Booth (Author), Gregory G. Colomb (Author), Joseph M. Williams (Author), Joseph Bizup (Author), William T. FitzGerald (Author)

With more than three-quarters of a million copies sold since its first publication, The Craft of Research has helped generations of researchers at every level—from first-year undergraduates to advanced graduate students to research reporters in business and government—learn how to conduct effective and meaningful research. Conceived by seasoned researchers and educators Wayne C. Booth, Gregory G. Colomb, and Joseph M. Williams, this fundamental work explains how to find and evaluate sources, anticipate and respond to reader reservations, and integrate these pieces into an... View Details


Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches
by John W. Creswell (Author), J. David Creswell (Author)

This bestselling text pioneered the comparison of qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods research design. For all three approaches, John W. Creswell and new co-author J. David Creswell include a preliminary consideration of philosophical assumptions; key elements of the research process; a review of the literature; an assessment of the use of theory in research applications, and reflections about the importance of writing and ethics in scholarly inquiry.

New to this Edition

Updated discussion on designing a proposal for a research project and on the steps in designing... View Details


Research Strategies: Finding Your Way Through the Information Fog, 5th Edition
by William Badke (Author)

Online resources have given us access to more knowledge than ever before. We're buried in data, and defining what is and what is not genuine information becomes more of a challenge all the time. In this fifth edition of Research Strategies, author William Badke helps you make sense of all of the available information, shows you how to navigate and discern it, and details how to use it to your advantage to become a better researcher. Badke focuses on informational research and provides a host of tips and advice not only for conducting research, but also for everything from finding a topic to... View Details


Research Methodology: A Step-by-Step Guide for Beginners
by Ranjit Kumar (Author)

Lecturers - request an e-inspection copy of this text  or contact your local SAGE representative to discuss your course needs.

Research Methodology: A Step by Step Guide for Beginners
has been written specifically for those with no previous experience of research or research methodology. Written in a logical and accessible style and providing helpful techniques and examples, it breaks the process of designing and doing a research project into eight manageable operational steps. The book guides you through your project from... View Details


Qualitative Inquiry and Research Design: Choosing Among Five Approaches
by John W. Creswell (Author), Cheryl N. Poth (Author)

In the revised Fourth Edition of the best-selling text, John W. Creswell and new co-author Cheryl N. Poth explore the philosophical underpinnings, history, and key elements of five qualitative inquiry approaches: narrative research, phenomenology, grounded theory, ethnography, and case study. Preserving Creswell′s signature writing style, the authors compare the approaches and relate research designs to each of the traditions of inquiry in a highly accessible manner. Featuring new content, articles, pedagogy, references, and expanded coverage of ethics throughout, the... View Details


Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative and Mixed Methods Approaches
by John W. Creswell (Author)

The eagerly anticipated Fourth Edition of the title that pioneered the comparison of qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods research design is here! For all three approaches, Creswell includes a preliminary consideration of philosophical assumptions, a review of the literature, an assessment of the use of theory in research approaches, and refl ections about the importance of writing and ethics in scholarly inquiry. He also presents the key elements of the research process, giving specifi c attention to each approach. The Fourth Edition includes... View Details


Nursing Research: Methods and Critical Appraisal for Evidence-Based Practice, 8e (Nursing Research: Methods, Critical Appraisal & Utilization)
by Geri LoBiondo-Wood PhD RN FAAN (Author), Judith Haber PhD RN FAAN (Author)

With an emphasis on how nursing research is appraised and applied, Nursing Research: Methods and Critical Appraisal for Evidence-Based Practice, 8th Edition offers a comprehensive introduction to the nursing research concepts and methods essential to today’s evidence-based healthcare environment. Coverage includes clear guidelines for evaluating research and applying scientific evidence to practice, qualitative and quantitative research, appraising and critiquing research, critical thinking, and clinical decision making using research information.

The American Journal of... View Details


Foundations of Clinical Research: Applications to Practice
by Leslie G. Portney DPT PhD FAPTA (Author), Mary P. Watkins DPT MS (Author)

Draw upon the foundations necessary for finding and interpreting research evidence across all healthcare professions.



Revised to reflect the most current changes in the field of clinical research in rehabilitation and medicine, you’ll find a growing emphasis on evidence-based practice (EBP) as well as new vocabulary that is being integrated into research and practice across disciplines. View Details


Research Like a Pro: A Genealogist's Guide
by Diana Elder (Author), Nicole Dyer (Contributor)

Are you stuck in your genealogical research? Wondering how to make progress on your brick wall problems? Discover the process that a professional genealogist uses to solve difficult cases. Diana Elder shares her step-by-step method using real world examples, easily understood by any level of genealogist; written for the researcher ready to take their skills to the next level. Learn how to form an objective, review your research by creating a timeline analysis, construct a locality guide to direct your research, create a plan, style source citations, set up a research log to organize and track... View Details

Best Science Podcasts 2018

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2018. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Inspire To Action
What motivates us to take up a cause, follow a leader, or create change? This hour, TED speakers explore stories of inspirational leadership, and what makes some movements more successful than others. Guests include high school history teacher Diane Wolk-Rogers, writer and behavioral researcher Simon Sinek, 2016 Icelandic presidential candidate Halla Tómasdóttir, professor of leadership Jochen Menges, and writer and activist Naomi Klein.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#474 Appearance Matters
This week we talk about appearance, bodies, and body image. Why does what we look like affect our headspace so much? And how do we even begin to research a topic as personal and subjective as body image? To try and find out, we speak with some of the researchers at the Centre for Appearance Research (CAR) at the University of the West of England in Bristol. Psychology Professor Phillippa Diedrichs walks us through body image research, what we know so far, and how we know what we know. Professor of Appearance and Health Psychology Diana Harcourt talks about visible...