TECH
06/27/2011 02:40 pm ET Updated Aug 27, 2011

Acoustic 'Invisibility' Cloak Shields Objects From Sound

Scientists have created an acoustic "invisibility cloak" that shields objects from sound waves.

The device could be used to help block ships from appearing on sonar equipment or to build better soundproof walls for concert halls, according to PopSci.

The creators propose that by coating an object in "perforated plastic plates," the object will become audibly "invisible" by interfering with--even manipulating--sound waves that interact with the object, according to a brief description of the method, posted at Physical Review Letters.

The BBC reports that the technology for creating a sound cloaking "device" borrows from the mathematics surrounding visual cloaking technology.

"Fundamentally, in terms of hiding objects, it's the same - how anything is sensed is with some kind of wave and you either hear or see the effect of it," said Steven Cummer of Duke University told the BBC. "But when it comes to building the materials, things are very different between acoustics and electromagnetics."

Last year, PopSci reported on sound-blocking "metamaterial panels" made from "simple latex with some plastic buttons."

But the recently proposed sonar-proofing materials may be even easier to engineer. According to PopSci, "It essentially just involved poking some holes in a special type of plastic."