Saturday 5 December 2015

Graphene Microphone Could Pick Up Sounds beyond Human Hearing


Graphene Designed Microphone – Amazing Detection Quality

Latest designed microphone of graphene which is 32 times more sensitive than conventional microphones have been invented by researchers which has amazing sound detection qualities. Graphene which is one of the thinnest, lightest, strongest as well as the most conductive materials ever known comprises of a single layer of carbon atoms that are arranged in a honeycomb structure.

Its adaptability enables it to support possibly a wide variety of application in electronics which include flexible displays, wearable and other next-generation electronic devices. Having the strength of some of the present day best microphones, graphene based devices has the potential to detect a range of audible frequencies. As per a paper published by the University of Belgrade in Serbia in the journal 2D materials, the microphone membrane is said to be built by amassing 60 layers, which is a single layer of carbon atoms in hexagonal pattern.

 It substitutes nickel, a traditional material for commercial microphones. Author of the paper, Marko Spasenovic, informed Engineering and Technology magazine that they wanted to show that graphene though a relatively new material has the capability for real world application. Known for its light weight, high mechanical strength as well as flexibility, graphene can be utilised as an acoustic membrane material’.

Development in Infancy Stage

While the development is at its infancy stage, the graphene microphone tends to pick up sounds at 15 decibels level which is higher than the commercial devices at frequencies of up to 11 kHz. A virtual microphone of 300 layers of graphene was then stimulated by the researchers instead of the 60 layered one which they had already built and found that the enhanced version had the potential of picking up sounds at ultrasonic frequencies up to 1 MHz, 50 times greater than the upper limit of human hearing at 20 KHz.

 Due to their research, scientists are of the belief that this is only the beginning for the graphene based microphone. This technology could be utilised to pick up sounds which we presently cannot hear like bats chirping or to converse through materials such as steel that electromagnetic waves are unable to penetrate. Layers of graphene onto nickel foil were grown by the researcher and later the nickel was removed leaving only the graphene behind. Thereafter the graphene sheet was then placed in a conventional microphone where it acted as a diaphragm, a membrane which tends to pick up sound vibrations.

Limiting Aspect of Commercial Graphene Microphone – Cost

Main limiting aspect in the creation of a commercial graphene microphone is the cost and seems to be excessively expensive to manufacture large sheets of graphene. Marko Spasenovic has stated that at this stage, there seems to be several hurdles in making cheap graphene and hence the microphone should be considered more of proof of concept and the industry are working hard in improving graphene production. Ultimately we could have better microphones at lower cost.

 The researchers across the globe are presently attempting to bring down the cost of graphene production. At Manchester University, a £61, National Graphene Institute had been opened in March 2015 where the `wonder material’ was initially isolated. There have been over 11,300 graphene related patents, all over the world. Several applications have been defined for a variety of technologies right from super strong bendy mobile phone screens to quicker computer chips as well as broadband and revolutionary and high performance batteries.

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