Duke Turns Plastic Pyramid Into Acoustic Cloaking Device
March 17, 2014 2:32 PM
So is a flying pyramid/saucer in the works for the CIA and USAF?
Want to make an object indistinguishable from the background? Well you'll have to develop multiple cloaking technologies to cover common detection modes.
I. Activate the Cloaking Shroud
In the past we've
optical cloaks, which thus far have been largely
confined to the nanoscopic regime
. Optical cloaks
make light bend around an opaque object
such that the observer seemingly "see through" it.
a new study
that offers another kind of cloaking technology --
. Acoustic cloaks are
particularly handy in deep ocean water
, where light does not travel far and where
sound waves are the primary means of "seeing" one's surroundings
The device is a hood of sorts that goes over the object you wish to cloak. It consists of a pyramid, of sorts, with multiple stacked plastic shrouds. Each shroud has holes in it allowing for the unique routing of sound waves around the object being disguised.
Duke's accoustic cloak from schematic to fabrication [Image Source: Nature Materials/Duke]
Mounted to a flying plane or undersea craft, it might
resemble a flying saucer
or Ra's spaceship from
(the feature film).
II. Building an Acoustic Cloak
Duke Electrical and Computer Engineering
Professor Steven Cummer
describes in a university press release:
The particular trick we’re performing is hiding an object from sound waves. By placing this cloak around an object, the sound waves behave like there is nothing more than a flat surface in their path.
The structure that we built might look really simple. But I promise you that it’s a lot more difficult and interesting than it looks. We put a lot of energy into calculating how sound waves would interact with it. We didn’t come up with this overnight.
Professor Cummer was the senior author of the paper and led the effort. Lucian Zigoneanu, Ph.D, a postdoctoral research in Professor Cummer's lab, and Bogdan-Ioan Popa, Ph.D, a research scientist with the lab, handled the experimental work and fine-grain design.
Duke research scientist Bogdan-Ioan Popa checks out the acoustic cloak. [Image Source: Duke]
A video of the shroud in action is seen below:
To test the device, the team put a ping pong ball within the unique cloaking shroud and pinged it with sound waves.
The object is almost disguised when cloaked, as seen in this sound wave study.
[Image Source: Duke/Nature Materials]
Compared to alternatives, the pyramid showed no trace of the ping pong ball and made the cloaked object and cloaking construct almost invisible.
III. Tuning and Future Applications
The cloak still needs a bit of tuning.
It does not yet completely disguised the object, even if viewed along a face. The research team believes that with a bit more tweaking it can be made to provide a near-perfect cloak.
Duke's cloak needs a bit more tuning. [Image Source: Duke/Nature Materials]
Obviously, cloaking military structures or stealth submarines would be a prime application of the technology, but it may also come in handy in designing materials for better concert halls. Comments Professor Cummer:
We conducted our tests in the air, but sound waves behave similarly underwater, so one obvious potential use is sonar avoidance. But there’s also the design of auditoriums or concert halls—any space where you need to control the acoustics. If you had to put a beam somewhere for structural reasons that was going to mess up the sound, perhaps you could fix the acoustics by cloaking it.
The U.S. military is clearly interesting in this novel cloaking technology; the successful project received funding from both the
Office of Naval Research
(ONR) (N00014-13-1-0631) and the
Army Research Office
Duke on YouTube
"Paying an extra $500 for a computer in this environment -- same piece of hardware -- paying $500 more to get a logo on it? I think that's a more challenging proposition for the average person than it used to be." -- Steve Ballmer
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