Graphene makes great speakers; audiophiles rejoice

Center of Integrated Nanomechanical Systems/UC Berkeley

Graphene is wonderful material that could someday revolutionize all sorts of technology—everything from our Internet connection to the batteries inside our gear. This week, scientists are adding portable speakers to graphene’s long list of potential uses.

A group of researchers from the University of California, Berkeley have created a pair of graphene-based earphones. The most marvelous thing about these speakers isn’t the graphene they are made of, but the fact that they sound just as good as traditional speakers that have taken years to fine-tune.

A traditional tweeter (no, not that kind of tweet) uses a vibrating speaker cone or diaphragm to create a sound. These diaphragms can vary in quality, which might cause one pair of headphones to have too much bass, while another might cut out the lower tones of your music. Current speaker cones also need to be dampened with extra material to prevent the speaker from over vibrating and causing distortion.

A graphene diaphragm, on the other hand, is a uniform piece of material that measures a mere 30 nanometers thin. The material is so thin and strong that air itself will dampen out the extra motion. When compared to a pair of Sennheiser MX-400 earphones, the scientists were amazed by the graphene diaphragm’s frequency response, considering it was made without any specialized acoustic design.

Who knows when we’ll see this technology implemented into the next pair of Beats headphones, but it’s definitely something to look forward to.

[Cornell University Library via Tested]

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