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article imageSuper carbon filters play music in the heat

By Tim Sandle     Aug 1, 2015 in Science
Detroit - Technologists have developed a carbon nanotube transducer with a special property: the device makes sounds, and plays music, with heat. The device is also light weight and portable.
With the device, think of a sheet that could be draped over a window or a chair. The sheet is the speaker, portable thin and weighing very little, and, most importantly, able to play an array of sounds and music.
The prototype of the speaker looks a little basic: a Teflon base propped up by two copper rods, with transparent black cloth that stretches between them. The material between the rods is incredibly strong, being made up of black nanorods. Speaking of the speakers, co-inventor Mahsa Asgarisabet told Controlled Environments magazine: “They’re basically conformable speakers.”
It is these nanotubes that are the key to the speaker. The nanotubes are very small, with walls composed of only one carbon atom-thick. They are also heat controlled, heating up and cooling down around 100,000 times per second. This effect of heating and down leads to the adjacent air expanding and contracting. This serves to push air molecules around and this effect creates sound waves. This is very different to a traditional speaker system where a moving coil causes sound waves. The generated sound wave needs to be converted to make it intelligible to human ears. This is done using special software.
The original idea was to create speakers to cancel out noise, such as the noise from an aircraft engine. However, further development, considering the underlying physics of carbon nanotube speakers, showed that speakers of this design could also be used to play music.
The prototype device impressed judges at the SAE International’s Noise and Vibration Conference and Exhibition 2015, where it won the award ‘Best In Show.’
The technology has other potential uses. These include icing helicopter blades; making lighter loudspeakers; and working as both as a car speaker and heating filament for back windshield defrosters.
The research was undertaken at the Michigan Technological University. The findings have yet to be published in a journal.
More about heated speakers, carbon speakers, Nanotechnology
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