An Invisible Acoustic Sensor Based on Parity-Time Symmetry
Sensing an incoming signal is typically associated with absorbing a portion of its energy, inherently perturbing the measurement and creating reflections and shadows. Here, in contrast, Prof. Andrea Alù and students Romain Fleury and Dimitrios Sounas demonstrate a non-invasive, shadow-free, invisible sensor for airborne sound waves at audible frequencies, which fully absorbs the impinging signal, without at the same time perturbing its own measurement or creating a shadow. This unique sensing device is based on the unusual scattering properties of a parity-time (PT) symmetric metamaterial device formed by a pair of electro-acoustic resonators loaded with suitably tailored non-Foster electrical circuits, constituting the acoustic equivalent of a coherent perfect absorber coupled to a coherent laser. Beyond the specific application to non-invasive sensing, their work demonstrates the unique relevance of PT-symmetric metamaterials for acoustics, loss compensation and extraordinary wave manipulation.
This work has been supported by the DTRA YIP award no. HDTRA1-12 1-0022 and the AFOSR grant no. FA9550-13-1-0204. This paper was originally published in Nature Communications.
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