MIT develops ‘paper-thin loudspeaker’ with multiple potential uses

by ian

Ian Patrick, FISM News


Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have recently revealed a newly developed “paper-thin loudspeaker” that plays with little distortion and weighs less than a dime.

A write-up of the new technology on April 26 explains how the researchers cut holes into a tiny sheet of PET plastic and then laminated the bottom side of it with 8 microns “of piezoelectric material, called PVDF” to accomplish the feat.

Piezoelectric materials “have the ability to generate internal electrical charge from applied mechanical stress,” according to a definition by Sciencing. The word “piezo” is Greek, which translates to “push” in English. The sound is created through the application of vacuum and heating, which applies pressure through the holes in the PET layer.

Lead author of the research paper, Jinchi Han, said that it was “a very simple, straightforward process.” Han said “it could be fabricated in large amounts” due to how easy the creation process is, saying it could be used “like wallpaper to cover walls, cars, or aircraft interiors.”

The device can be mounted to any surface and play audio, as long as it has a power supply. It can also be used to detect other humans with ultrasound, according to the senior author of the paper, Vladimir Bulović.

“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,” said Bulović, who also is the Fariborz Maseeh Chair in Emerging Technology, leader of the Organic and Nanostructured Electronics Laboratory (ONE Lab), and director of MIT.nano.

“It can be used anywhere. One just needs a smidgeon of electrical power to run it.”

The write-up also says that the gadget can be used as noise-cancellation in areas like an airplane cockpit as well as for immersive entertainment in places like theme parks and theaters.

To see how the device works and sounds, check out the video from MIT below: