Acoustic Cloaking Device Hides Objects from Sound

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Duke engineers build world’s first 3-D acoustic cloaking device.

Using little more than a few perforated sheets of plastic and a staggering amount of number crunching, Duke engineers have demonstrated the world’s first three-dimensional acoustic cloak. The new device reroutes sound waves to create the impression that both the cloak and anything beneath it are not there.

The acoustic cloaking device works in all three dimensions, no matter which direction the sound is coming from or where the observer is located, and holds potential for future applications such as sonar avoidance and architectural acoustics.

The study appears online in Nature Materials.

“The particular trick we’re performing is hiding an object from sound waves,” said Steven Cummer, professor of electrical and computer engineering at Duke University. “By placing this cloak around an object, the sound waves behave like there is nothing more than a flat surface in their path.”

To achieve this new trick, Cummer and his colleagues turned to the developing field of metamaterials—the combination of natural materials in repeating patterns to achieve unnatural properties. In the case of the new acoustic cloak, the materials manipulating the behavior of sound waves are simply plastic and air. Once constructed, the device looks like several plastic plates with a repeating pattern of holes poked through them stacked on top of one another to form a sort of pyramid.

Written By: Sci Love
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9 COMMENTS

  1. I spent some time in the vacuum room of the acoustics department during university …its very strange to not hear any echo and you hear/feel a dull pressure while your voice feels small and weak… …we are so used to hearing echo and sound waves bouncing off things….this has great design applications…

  2. It wasn’t properly tested. Suspend it in the center of a dark room equipped with infrared cameras. Then, release a whole bunch of moths and bats in there. If the bats consistently bump into the “cloaking device” while hunting for moths, that means it probably works. If they never bump into it, that most certainly means it doesn’t work.

    • In reply to #5 by NearlyNakedApe:

      It wasn’t properly tested. Suspend it in the center of a dark room equipped with infrared cameras. Then, release a whole bunch of moths and bats in there. If the bats consistently bump into the “cloaking device” while hunting for moths, that means it probably works. If they never bump into it, that…

      I’m pretty sure you are kidding? After all the scientists have better methods than using bats and moths wouldn’t you think?

    • In reply to #7 by Nunbeliever:

      So, if you are inside this building, will you be “isolated” from all the sounds from outside?

      Its surface with holes protects whatever is in there from being audibly detected on the outside…
      It didn’t say if it works in reverse ? If it was made from clear plastic – creatures with vision could just see what’s inside !

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