A team of researchers from University College London has developed a way to make objects levitate by sound waves in the air when other objects disrupt the levitation path. In their article published in the magazine scientific progressthe group describes their self-correcting levitation system.
Previous research has shown that it is possible to make objects levitate by firing sound waves at them. Since sound waves are nothing more than air particles moving towards each other in a certain way, the object to be hovered will fall if an object interferes with the sound waves. In this new effort, the researchers have developed new features to address this problem.
To protect the sound waves from: interferencethe researchers increased the number speakers used – in their work they used 256. They also added software to control each of the speakers. The loudspeakers were arranged in a grid and objects were kept floating by specially shaped sound waves. By programming the speakers in specific ways, the team was able to make the system work together to create an object above the schedule despite interruptions in the air. If some of the sound waves were blocked, others sound waves were forwarded to take their place.
The researchers proved that their system was viable by testing it with a 3D-printed white rabbit as the interference object. Objects were hovered around the rabbit regardless of location. In one experiment, the researchers floated beads around the rabbit that formed into a flying butterfly. They also floated a piece of clear fabric that they used as a screen for the projection of the rabbit they had printed. And they let a single drop of water float over a glass of water, showing that their system would work even if the interfering object was a flowing glass of liquid.
The researchers suggest their system could be used for demonstration purposes, such as in museums or advertisements. They then plan to expand their system so that it can handle multiple interfering objects simultaneously.
Ryuji Hirayama et al, High-speed acoustic holography with random scattering objects, scientific progress (2022). DOI: 10.1126/sciaadv.abn7614
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