Multifunctional and aesthetical noise protection

Noise abatement is growing in importance and so is the demand for better acoustic building components.

Material scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics (IBP) are developing aesthetically pleasing and flexibly applicable of micro-perforated sound absorbers.

The absorbers consist of membranes or sheets that have been perforated with a multitude of tiny holes or slits. When sound waves strike the surface as oscillating air molecules, friction is generated between the air in motion and the edge of the miniscule openings. It is this loss of energy that results in the sound being absorbed. The only prerequisite is that there is an air chamber located behind the openings, to allow the molecules to continue oscillating once they have passed through, as otherwise the sound would simply be reflected. Depending on the material, the holes are drilled, punched or pricked.

The technology means that, for the first time, it is possible to make sound absorbers that are both transparent and translucent. When mounted onto building fa├žades or as noise barriers at the roadside, these materials have the desired effect without detracting from the landscape, and they can also be superbly integrated into the interior architecture of buildings.

Professor Philip Leistner, head of the acoustics department at the IBP, said: "Above all, it's a question of cost efficiency. When it comes to ensuring the manufacturing process is cost-effective, it's important to realise that not all methods are equally well suited for every material."

Justin Cunningham

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