Researchers Discover Noise-Blocking Material That Drowns Out Coworkers’ Voices1 min read

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Good news for anyone who has ever wanted to cancel out somebody else’s droning: researchers at Boston University have recently figured out that by sticking a PVC pipe with a secret add-on up a loudspeaker, they could not hear anything at all.

The whole pipe was left open, save for a tiny 3D-printed ring around its rim, which cut out 94-percent of the sound blasting from the speaker. This left too little to be audible to the human ear. The new “acoustic meta material” was printed from a mathematically-designed blueprint.

Typically, acoustic paneling works by absorbing sound and converting vibrations into heat. However, this material is completely open, allowing anything but sound to travel through it.

This bodes well for architecture and interior design, as these metamaterials can be used to enhance people’s way of life. Soundproof yet transparent wall could revolutionize the cubicle life of the working man.

Researchers also believe that HVAC systems can be fitted with these silencers, and that drones can be muted to silence. MRI machines, ever so terrifyingly loud for patients trapped in small spaces, could be made infinitely quieter. The possibilities for applications are limitless.

While the material must be tweaked mathematically for every use, its potential could really be music to all our ears.

[via Fast Company, opening image via Shutterstock]