ENME

News Story

UMD Researchers Use Artificially Engineered Materials to Create Breakthrough for Sound Sensors

UMD Researchers Use Artificially Engineered Materials to Create Breakthrough for Sound Sensors

UMD research team (from left to right) Haijun Liu, Miao Yu, Yongyao Chen and Hyungdae Bae.  Not pictured, Michael Reilly.
UMD research team (from left to right) Haijun Liu, Miao Yu, Yongyao Chen and Hyungdae Bae.
Not pictured, Michael Reilly.

University of Maryland (UMD) A. James Clark School of Engineering researchers have developed breakthrough technology to improve sound sensor capabilities through the use of artificially engineered materials.

Sound, or acoustic sensors, play important roles in a wide range of uses. From sonar navigation and detection to medical imaging for cancer and therapies, sensors are an important part of daily life. However, current sensors, like ultrasound for tumor detection or sensors monitoring a bridge's structural health, are limited in their ability to detect weak acoustic signals. These weak signals fall outside of most sensors' minimal detectable range, so extremely small tumors or fine damage in a bridge's foundation may go undetected. This year, sensor limitations also made international news as underwater sonar attempts failed in the deep waters of the Pacific to locate signs of missing Malaysian Airlines Flight 370.

Led by Department of Mechanical Engineering Associate Professor Miao Yu, the UMD researchers are addressing current sensor limitations by developing new uses for artificially engineered materials—metamaterials—to improve acoustic sensing capabilities. Nature Communications published the team's breakthrough research, "Enhanced Acoustic Sensing through Wave Compression and Pressure Amplification in Anisotropic Metamaterials," in their October 15 issue, and it is the first research to use metamaterials for improving acoustic sensing.

While researchers have explored using acoustic metamaterials for applications such as invisible cloaking, sound isolators and acoustic absorbers, Yu's team is the first to show how metamaterials can alter sound waves to improve sensor detection.

The UMD team has created a new sensing platform that uses acoustic metamaterials—artificial materials specifically designed to manipulate sound waves—to enhance acoustic detection. The team developed a metamaterials structure that would compress and amplify a sound wave before detection by a sensor. This compression and amplification process, in effect, 'concentrates' the sound wave into a range the sensor can detect. The system allows a sensor to pick up weaker, or low volume, signals that previously would have gone undetected.

Metamaterial enhanced sound signal detection could advance sensor technologies in many applications, such as acoustic navigation, communication, surveillance, structural health monitoring and medical imaging. For example, improved medical imaging sensors could possibly detect tumors and cancerous growths at an earlier stage, while improved underwater sonar sensors could help locate objects from a greater distance or depth.

Yu's research is part of a three-year National Science Foundation funded project in the Division of Civil, Mechanical and Manufacturing Innovation (CMMI) to investigate acoustic wave control using metamaterials. Her team includes Research Associates Drs. Yongyao Chen, Haijun Liu and Hyungdae Bae, and Undergraduate Research Assistant Michael Reilly.

Schematic of metamaterial enhanced acoustic sensing.
Left: the pressure field of sound is spatially compressed and amplified inside the high refractive-index acoustic metamaterial before detection by a sensor. Right: schematic metamaterial dispersion curve for acoustic waves with a high-k state.

For more information on Yu and her research, visit her faculty webpage.

Related Articles:
REU in Miniature Robotics holds final project symposium
Mechanical Engineering Graduate Students Win Travel Grants to 2012 ASME International Mechanical Engineering Conference and Exposition
Yu Named ASME Fellow
Miao Yu named Maryland Robotics Center director
UMD Researchers Creating First Onboard Fast-Charging System for Electric Vehicles
Surfing Liquid Drops Shed New Light in Soft Materials Research
New AFOSR NIFTI Center features eight Clark School faculty
Larsson Receives NSF CAREER Award
Li and Hu Awarded NSF Grant to Study Challenges in Creating Materials that are Both Stronger and Tougher
Bruck, Smela, Yu receive NSF grant for compliant multifunctional robotic structures

October 14, 2014


Prev   Next

Current Headlines

UMD-Led Research Predicts Dangerous Blood Pressure Drops in ICU Patients

Sarah Bergbreiter wins ISR Outstanding Faculty Award

Alumnus Wins DOE Early Career Award

UMD Team in Top Six at 2nd Hyperloop Competition

New UMD Hyperloop Pod Races Against Rivals this Weekend

UMD Researchers Explore Possibility of Making a Biological Cell Membrane Positive

Yu Named ASME Fellow

Smela named Clark School Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs and Graduate Programs

News Resources

Return to Newsroom

Search News

Archived News

Events Resources

Events Calendar

Additional Resources

UM Newsdesk

Faculty Experts