Coupling and confinement of current in thermoacoustic phased arrays

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Science Advances  01 Jul 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 27, eabb2752
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abb2752


When a medium is rapidly heated and cooled, heat transfers to its surroundings as sound. A controllable source of this sound is realized through joule heating of thin, conductive films by an alternating current. Here, we show that arrays of these sources generate sound unique to this mechanism. From the sound alone, we spatially resolve current flow by varying the film geometry and electrical phase. Confinement concentrates heat to such a degree that the film properties become largely irrelevant. Electrical coupling between sources creates its own distinctive sound that depends on the current flow direction, making it unusually sensitive to the interactions of multiple currents sharing the same space. By controlling the flow, a full phased array can be created from just a single film.

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