Flat graphene speakers for mobile audio systems

Researchers at Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) have developed a speaker design specifically targeted for the mobile audio market that draws its capabilities from nanomaterials. The KAIST researchers have used graphene to produce a speaker that does not require an acoustic box to produce sound.

According to the researchers, they used graphene in a relatively simple two-step process that yielded the long-elusive thermoacoustic speaker. Thermoacoustics is based on the century-old idea that sound can be produced by the rapid heating and cooling of a material instead of through vibrations.

They started by freeze-drying a solution of graphene oxide flakes and then reduced and doped the oxidised graphene to improve its electrical properties. The end result is an N-doped, three-dimensional, reduced graphene oxide aerogel (N-rGOA) that is freestanding.

The final aerogel sound element has a porous macroscopic structure that is claimed to be easily modulated. The speaker the KAIST researchers produced consists of an array of 16 of the aerogels that operates on 40W of power.

The researchers believe that because of the simplicity of their fabrication method, their speakers could be mass-produced for use in mobile devices and other applications. An additional benefit, according to the researchers, is that because the speakers are flat and don’t vibrate, they can be placed against walls and even curved surfaces.

Tom Austin-Morgan

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