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Chinese Researchers Invent an Ultra-Thin Acoustic Diffuser for Audio Studios and Other Spaces

Researchers from Nanjing University in Nanjing, China have invented a new type of acoustic diffuser that is 10 times thinner than existing designs while delivering the same level of performance.

Unlike a standard Schroeder diffuser — the classical diffuser design developed over 40 years ago — the newly-developed ultra-thin diffuser employs identical shallow chambers fronted by apertures of varying size. This system of square cavities with different neck widths needs a thickness of just five percent of the sound’s wavelength to be effective.

While the traditional Schroeder design requires a depth of about half the wavelength of the lowest sound it needs to diffuse, it is impractical for tackling low-frequency energy.

In a research paper published in the journal of the American Physical Society, a new class of ultra-thin and planar Schroeder diffusers are proposed based on the concept of an acoustic metasurface.

Both numerical and experimental results demonstrate satisfactory sound diffuse reflection produced from the metasurface-based Schroeder diffuser despite it being approximately one order of magnitude thinner than the conventional one.

The proposed design not only offers promising building blocks with great potential to profoundly impact architectural acoustics and related fields, but it also constitutes a major step towards real-world applications of acoustic metasurfaces.

Though still in the research phase, this new Chinese design opens the door for much thinner and, potentially, much cheaper diffuser panels for use in audio studios, concert halls and industrial applications.

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