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Paper-Thin Speakers Made From Carbon Nanotubes

Simple-to-make speakers are transparent and flexible

3 min read

10 December 2008—Earlier this year, scientists at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign demonstrated the first radio receiver made from carbon nanotubes (CNTs)—those impossibly thin tubes of carbon that are the darlings of nanotechnology research.Now Chinese researchers have built the speakers to go with it—out of the same material.

Researchers led by KaiLi Jiang, an associate professor at Tsinghua University, in Beijing, along with collaborators from the nearby Beijing Normal University, have developed CNT speakers that can reproduce music as well as the loudspeakers in your stereo. Jiang and his colleagues describe their unusual acoustic instruments in the current issue of the journal Nano Letters .

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Deep Learning Could Bring the Concert Experience Home

The century-old quest for truly realistic sound production is finally paying off

12 min read
Image containing multiple aspects such as instruments and left and right open hands.
Stuart Bradford

Now that recorded sound has become ubiquitous, we hardly think about it. From our smartphones, smart speakers, TVs, radios, disc players, and car sound systems, it’s an enduring and enjoyable presence in our lives. In 2017, a survey by the polling firm Nielsen suggested that some 90 percent of the U.S. population listens to music regularly and that, on average, they do so 32 hours per week.

Behind this free-flowing pleasure are enormous industries applying technology to the long-standing goal of reproducing sound with the greatest possible realism. From Edison’s phonograph and the horn speakers of the 1880s, successive generations of engineers in pursuit of this ideal invented and exploited countless technologies: triode vacuum tubes, dynamic loudspeakers, magnetic phonograph cartridges, solid-state amplifier circuits in scores of different topologies, electrostatic speakers, optical discs, stereo, and surround sound. And over the past five decades, digital technologies, like audio compression and streaming, have transformed the music industry.

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