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, we 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, our work broadly demonstrates the unique relevance of PT-symmetric metamaterials for acoustics, loss compensation and extraordinary wave manipulation.

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Nature Communications, 6, 5905

 Record created 2016-11-21, last modified 2018-01-28

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