Scientific development should not be viewed separately from everyday life. On the other hand, it is a field immersed in the problems and challenges of everyday life, capable of offering innovative solutions. Brilliant acoustic fabric the recently introduced one is a complete example of this. This is a thin textile layer that creates a silent atmosphere. Will this invention help prevent disputes between neighbors and provide an environment free from unwanted noise?

This is the promise of the developers of the device, which is the result of interdisciplinary work at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the United States. The idea is charming. A a material that stands out for its soundproofing capabilities and, in addition, for its thinness. How many? The experts involved note that it is barely thicker than a human hair.

The magic of acoustic fabric happens when voltage is applied to it. The textile contains a special fiber that vibrates when it receives such a stimulus. Thus, with this movement it suppresses sounds. “It’s much easier to create noise than silence. In fact, to avoid noise, we devote a lot of space to thick walls,” commented Yoel Fink, a professor of science and engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and lead author of a paper on this invention. “This work shows us a new mechanism for creating quiet spaces using just a sheet of thin fabric,” he added.

How the acoustic fabric created at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology works

The secret of this invention lies in the use of vibrations in its fibers thanks to an electrical stimulus. (Photo: MIT)

Noise can be annoying, especially for those seeking peace or who need to concentrate while working. Also for those who simply prefer quiet and peaceful places. Currently solutions for this evil They required effort and investment of money. Thick walls, just like Fink said. Numbers that acousticize – recording rooms, radio studios, etc. – with absorbing panels and resonators, as well as other expensive methods and materials. Sometimes the obvious solution is put one sound above another. For example, some people listen to loud music on headphones to block out the noise.

What is the operation acoustic fabric offering a revolution in noise control? As we noted earlier, the secret of this invention lies in the use of vibrations in its fibers due to an electrical stimulus. According to the researchers, such vibrations suppress sound in two different ways.

One way is as follows. The fabric vibrates and generates waves that interfere with unwanted sounds, canceling them. This method works similarly to that used in noise-canceling headphones. In short, to achieve this goal, such devices actively measure ambient sound and generate a “negative” wave through the earpiece. That is, they do this not only passively, including materials such as pads. However, as the makers of the acoustic fabric commented in an MIT statement, the headphones work well when focused – on the ears – but are useless when used with loudspeakers.

The second technique is amazing. In this case, the fabric remains motionless and thus suppresses vibrations that transmit sound. This approach excites experts because it will bring ingenuity to larger spaces. We can think of several examples where this would be very useful, from cars and airplanes to work cubicles. Of course, in the rooms for avoid noise from neighbors. Especially if you are touched by someone who is talking very loudly or using the TV at full volume. Or even worse: those who play a musical instrument!

Parts made of sound-absorbing material, trained to Bach’s melody.

In 2022, a team at MIT developed the “acoustic fabric” on which this research was based. (Photo: MIT/Greg Hren)

Another good news about acoustic fabric is its composition. To make it, MIT researchers used common materials such as canvas, muslin and silk.. The origins of this work build on a previous one, dated 2022, when the same group of scientists created a “textile microphone.” To do this, they sewed a strand of fiber into the fabric, which when compressed or folded produces an electrical signal. Thus, when nearby noise causes tissue to vibrate, it is converted into an electrical signal that can pick up the sound.

“Although we can use fabrics to create sound, there is already a lot of noise in our world. We think that creating silence could be even more valuable– commented one of the scientists participating in this study. Based on this, they changed the original idea for the new work. Instead of inventing a speaker, they came up with a fabric that dampens sound waves.

Essentially, a piezoelectric fiber vibrates when an electrical signal is applied, and this generates sound. American University Scientists they demonstrated this by playing Air Johann Sebastian Bach. To do this, they used a piece of silk 130 micrometers thick, placed on a circular frame. Back to the question: how does the magic happen? “The vibrations of the piezoelectric fiber are controlled so that the sound waves emitted by the tissue are opposed to the unwanted sound waves hitting it, which can neutralize the noise,” the team explained.

When will acoustic fabric be used in the “real world”?

acoustic fabric
Grace Noel Young, lead author of the study. (Photo: LinkedIn)

Knowing the advantages of this material, it is worth asking the question What it takes for ingenuity to offer its benefits outside the laboratory.. According to a team led by MIT researcher Grace Noelle Young, in initial tests the technique is effective in small areas. How to implement this function, for example, in large rooms such as bedrooms?

The key is to use the acoustic fabric as a kind of sound mirror. At this stage, the experts involved found that silk and muslin were more effective because their smaller pore size made them better speakers. So far, in direct suppression mode, they have found that it significantly reduces the volume of sounds to 65 decibels—about as loud as human conversation. In vibration reduction mode, the fabric reduces sound transmission by up to 75%..

In the future, the researchers want to explore the possibility of using their tissues to block sounds of different frequencies. This will likely require more sophisticated signal processing and additional electronics. “There are many knobs we can turn to make this weave really effective. This is just the beginning– said Yang.

Those interested in learning more about the promising acoustic fabric can check out a study recently published in the journal Advanced Materialsentitled Single-layer fabrics for acoustic emission and active noise reduction.. The research is supported by the US National Science Foundation (NSF), the US Army Research Laboratory (ARO) and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA).

Source: Hiper Textual

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