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American researchers create sound-suppressing silk for quiet spaces

Washington, May 7 (Prensa Latina) Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, United States, have engineered a hair-thin fabric to create a lightweight, compact and efficient mechanism to reduce noise trnsmission in large rooms.

The fabric, barely thicker than a human hair, contains a special fiber that vibrates when a voltage is applied to it, which the specialists leveraged those vibrations to suppress sound in two different ways.

In one, the vibrating fabric generates sound waves that interfere with an unwanted noise to cancel it out, similar to noise-canceling headphones, which work well in a small space like your ears, but do not work in large enclosures like rooms or planes.

In the other, more surprising technique, the fabric is held still to suppress vibrations that are key to sound transmission, which prevents noise from transmitting through the fabric and mutes the volume beyond.

This second approach allows for noise reduction in much larger spaces like rooms or cars.

By using common materials like silk, canvas, and muslin, the researchers created noise-suppressing fabrics which would be practical to implement in real-world spaces.

For example, one could use such a fabric to make dividers in open workspaces or thin fabric walls that prevent sound from getting through.

Their experiments also revealed that both mechanical properties of a fabric and the size of its pores affect the efficiency of sound generation.