Non-reciprocal and highly nonlinear active acoustic metamaterials

Nat Commun. 2014 Feb 27;5:3398. doi: 10.1038/ncomms4398.


Unidirectional devices that pass acoustic energy in only one direction have numerous applications and, consequently, have recently received significant attention. However, for most practical applications that require unidirectionality at audio and low frequencies, subwavelength implementations capable of the necessary time-reversal symmetry breaking remain elusive. Here we describe a design approach based on metamaterial techniques that provides highly subwavelength and strongly non-reciprocal devices. We demonstrate this approach by designing and experimentally characterizing a non-reciprocal active acoustic metamaterial unit cell composed of a single piezoelectric membrane augmented by a nonlinear electronic circuit, and sandwiched between Helmholtz cavities tuned to different frequencies. The design is thinner than a tenth of a wavelength, yet it has an isolation factor of >10 dB. The design method generates relatively broadband unidirectional devices and is a good candidate for numerous acoustic applications.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acoustics / instrumentation*
  • Algorithms
  • Computer-Aided Design*
  • Electronics / instrumentation*
  • Equipment Design / methods*
  • Manufactured Materials
  • Models, Theoretical