A really affordable acoustic hologram technology that moves objects using nothing but the sound was created by a group of scientists. The invention can lead to many possibilities, like a potential “ultrasound-based medical therapies” envisioned by its lead engineer.
Tiny objects can be manipulated to move through air or water without touching them. How? By the power of sound, that is.
It is made possible through acoustic tractor beams that can pick up, levitate and move objects. And since the sound is used, “acoustic holograms” would have to be made.
The science behind it is as fascinating as it sounds. While regular holograms use scattered light to make a pattern, acoustic, on the other hand, uses sound.
When a small object is placed around an acoustic hologram, it can then move through the air. This creates a hologram-like 3D painting of sound.
Acoustic Hologram Technology Re-Envisioned
Initially, a group of Spanish engineers has developed the first acoustic tractor beams. Theirs used an array of many speakers that they use to angle and create patterns based on the noise.
However, their tractor beams cost a lot than the one recently created by scientists from Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Stuttgart, Germany.
The engineers, led by Kai Melde, created the same pattern for the sound-shape. But instead of using a lot of speakers, they only had one speaker with a filter which creates the same pulses.
To do that, they only needed a cheap speaker (like that of a watch’s alarm), a thin brass plate and the printed plastic filter. All of them totaled to less than $10, significantly cheaper than the previous acoustic tractor beam invented.
Melde and team’s simple design, as expected, faces some limitations. Some of which includes only having a stationary sound-image and suspending droplets of water in the air at a limited height.
Looking Forward From Ultrasound Waves
Since the design continues to be developed, the team are looking forward to further breakthroughs like a 3D sound hologram. Moreover, the manipulation of sound waves is the basic idea behind ultrasound-based therapies, like stimulation for the regrowth if tissues and strained muscles.
Melde says their technology can be used to make “really simple, but personalized devices” that, basing on the doctor’s prescription, can stimulate a specific pattern of muscle.
With the cost of the acoustic hologram technology, there are, indeed, a couple of applications that can be explored with ultrasound in more studies.
Photo source: Pixabay