MIT scientists test new materials to create quiet spaces

A fabric almost as thick as a human hair has been created capable of suppressing unwanted noise. Credit: MIT News
Laura Faz

Laura Faz Meteored Chile 05/18/2024 17:15 6 min

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have published the results of a multidisciplinary study to develop a silk fabric capable of suppressing unwanted sound.

By analyzing the behavior of traditional fabrics, it was possible to determine their characteristics such as emitters or suppressors Sound. It was found that the size of the pores in relation to the thickness of the fabric directly influences its ability to mitigate sound. The behavior of one tissue in particular caught the attention of scientists: the silk.

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When setting a piezoelectric actuator thread to the surface of a silk fabric (or what is the same, apply voltage to it), the latter is capable of emitting vibrations of 70 decibels (bB). By analyzing this behavior it was found that it was capable of suppress or attenuate surrounding sound implementing these two techniques: the first by interference direct acoustic and the second by suppression of surrounding vibrations.

With the interference direct, the “vibrant” fabric generates sound waves that interfere with noise unwanted to cancel it. In this case, a decrease of up to 37 bB in the intensity of the unwanted sound could be recorded.

In the second technique the tissue remains “immobile”, that is, practically vibrations are suppressed which are what transmit the sound, therefore, it cannot travel beyond the border that the silk fabric means.

Thus it was possible to reduce the amplitude of the vibration waves by 95%, achieving the decrease in sound intensity transmitted up to 75%. This result confirms the applicability of this technique in large spaces, such as rooms and airplane cabins.

What acoustic insulating materials have we had until today?

To improve the comfort and privacy of homes, as well as the protection of people in industrial environments where noisy machinery is present, without forgetting the acoustics in entertainment venues, for many years the most diverse materials have been used such as acoustic insulators.

industrial noise
In industries, effective sound insulation is often lacking.

The Polyurethane foam It is widely used for its versatility, because in addition to its ability to absorb and disperse sound wavesreducing noise transmission, constitutes an efficient thermal insulator. But your inflammability and toxicity put it at a disadvantage for some applications.

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The panels of acoustic plaster (commercially known as Pladur), in addition to providing a good finish to buildings, improve the acoustic insulation of premises, and in addition to being fireproof, they provide thermal insulation.

He Copopren It is another insulating material that is made of ethylene and propylene copolymers, used to acoustically insulate spaces, although its greatest application has been in reducing vibrations in machinery.

Airgel is a solid, ultralight material, made up of a three-dimensional network of Silica atoms.

He Airgel It is another of the many materials developed for decades for acoustic insulation, and is one of the most used in recent years in aerospace industry applications. It is the most expensive of the materials currently available, so its use is aimed at applications where high efficiency in sound reduction is required.

Will silk prevail in the future?

Reducing unwanted noise remains a challenge in daily life. Face this challenge using the versatility that offers the use of silk fabricsto implement acoustic insulation systems increasingly efficient, profitable and with the least impact on the environment, we hope that this will be the way in the coming years.

However, it is still too early to say. That is why this research contributes to the transition towards safer environments for our hearing health.

Reference source:

Yang, G.H.; et. to the. Single Layer Silk and Cotton Woven Fabrics for AcousticEmission and Active Sound Suppression. Wiley Online Library. MIT.

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