07 April 2010

Sonic Disruptor Technology Comes to Earth

Unlike conventional lead bullets, sound bullets can travel through air, liquid and solids alike, carrying devastating energy along as they go. If weaponized, a sound bullet system could create waves to blast holes in submarines or reach into underground bunkers with devastating shock waves. _PopSci

Scientists at Cal Tech in Pasadena have developed amazingly effective new methods of focusing sonic energy. The new techniques are likely to play important future roles in medical therapies for treating tumours, in weapons technologies, and in advanced communications.
The new acoustic lens is made of a metamaterial and uses the Newton’s cradle principle, which is familiar to many people from a toy with identical metal balls suspended on strings, designed to demonstrate the conservation of energy. When the ball at one end is pulled out and released, the ball at the other end swings out at the same speed. The metamaterial comprises 21 parallel chains, each containing 21 stainless steel spheres, but instead of channeling motion, the balls channel sound waves, which are converted to a shock wave called a “solitary wave”. The energy leaving the lens does not bounce back through the chains because of the length of the chains, and instead is focused on a spot a few centimeters in front of it. _Physorg

Brian Wang has much more on this development, with supplementary links and materials.
You need Flash installed to watch this ideo
Stress waves traveling in a nonlinear acoustic lens and sound bullet formation in the adjacent fluid medium (numerical results). In the lens, the sphere colors are proportional to the contact-force amplitude. Waves emitted by the nonlinear acoustic lens reach the host medium (via an elastic interface), where they generate compact spherical pressure waves. The pressure waves coalesce in the host medium and form a sound bullet. The color bar on the right represents the scale of pressure intensity (Pa) in the host medium.

The system is still under development and has not yet been tested on living cells. It is likely to be some years before it is available for medical or other applications.
VidSource: Physorg

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I may be missing something obvious in the articles and posts which I have read about this proposition but I don't quite understand how a wave can pass through gases, liquids and solids yet still be destructive as the suggestions about destroying submarines and underground bunkers indicate. Is it that different wavelengths (if that concept is used in this phenomenon) can travel through one medium but destroy things when they hit a different medium?

Thursday, 08 April, 2010  
Blogger al fin said...

I believe the threat lies in the ability to focus the sound energy. Presumably, the "range to target" would be critical.

Thursday, 08 April, 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmm. That makes sense. If the exact distance was not known they might focus at several points and see which one causes a ruckus. Kind of like playing Battleship - "Focus the weapon on area D-3!"

I wonder if this method might be used to fracture rock in front of a tunnel drilling machine. One might even use it from a location at the surface from various machines so you don't have to squeeze it into the tunnel. I don't know if it would work or be more energy efficient and less expensive than regular tunnel boring through unprepared rock but it is interesting to speculate.

Thursday, 08 April, 2010  

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