Engineers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have created a speaker as thin as a sheet of paper. It can be used to cover surfaces, turning walls and objects into a loudspeaker. According to the inventors, the speaker can create quality sound and does not consume much energy.
Researchers have developed their own manufacturing technology for this speaker. The palm-sized specimen shown by the team weighs as much as a coin. It produces sound with minimal deviations, regardless of the surface to which it is attached. In this case, the film speaker consumes only part of the energy required for a normal speaker.
“It feels remarkable to take what looks like a slender sheet of paper, attach two clips to it, plug it into the headphone port of your computer, and start hearing sounds emanating from it. It can be used anywhere. One just needs a smidgeon of electrical power to run it,” says Vladimir Bulović, the Fariborz Maseeh Chair in Emerging Technology, leader of the Organic and Nanostructured Electronics Laboratory (ONE Lab), director of MIT.nano, and senior author of the paper.
According to scientists, the speaker can be scaled to create thin speakers of the size enough to cover the walls of the room or car interior. This promises the effect of exciting sound without an obvious source.
Also development can be used for active noise absorption. For example, you can combine speaker technology with other electronics and microphones so that it can neutralize sounds.
Most of the previously developed film speakers were unsuitable for surface mounting. They had to vibrate freely to generate sound. In the current development, this limitation has been overcome. Instead of making the entire film vibrate, tiny domes on a thin layer of piezoelectric material that vibrates individually was added to the design.
The top and bottom of the dome are surrounded by a film that prevents them from touching the surface and allows them to vibrate freely. The spacer layers also protect the domes from wear during daily use and increase the durability of the speaker.
It is unknown at this time whether this technology will be used for consumer or commercial use. However, according to its developers, the possibilities of the invention are almost limitless.