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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Next Step In Soundproofing Technology

Soundproofing a room has always been a rather simple, brute force process - the more mass you add, the more isolation you get. There are some newer materials like mass loaded vinyl and Green Glue that make the soundproofing process slightly more efficient, but they can increase the cost considerably and still aren't any magic acoustic bullet for everyone that wants to stop bothering the neighbors.

That said, there may actually be a new technology that can change all of that. Researchers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have created a tunable acoustic diode, a device that allows acoustic information to travel only in one direction at controllable frequencies, according to a paper published in the journal Nature Materials.

The acoustic diode acts very much like an electronic one and allows sound to pass in only one direction, while blocking it in the opposite direction. This new technology would enable someone in room A to hear sound coming from room B, but would block the same sound in room A from being heard in room B. The other possibility is that any sound that was transmitted could be directed to a transducer that could convert the sound into electric energy, while keeping it away from the listener.

It doesn't seem like this is something that will be hitting your local Guitar Center anytime soon, but it's exciting to hear of a new class of acoustic devices that might be a major answer to the prayers of many home studio owners.

A paper on the subject is titled "Bifurcation-based acoustic switching and rectification," and was supported by the National Science Foundation, the Office of Naval Research, and the A. S. Onassis Benefit Foundation.
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Anonymous said...

Highly descriptive post, I enjoyed that bit. Will there be a part 2?

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