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A sound-absorbing wallpaper inspired by a moth’s wings is coming

Moths' wings are about "10 times as efficient at absorbing sound than any of our sound absorbers"

Image via Wikipedia

A professor at the University of Bristol is working on a sound-absorbing wallpaper inspired by a moth’s wings.

In a video posted to TikTok on 15th June, Professor Marc Holdereid explains that the research was sparked by moths' evolutionary evasion of bats, describing their wings — made up of variegated scales that vibrate at their own frequency and absorb sound — as their "secret weapon".

“Now that is remarkable as it is,” he said, “but this is also an acoustic metamaterial which means the performance of the whole wing is better than the contributing parts of all the constituting scales. And that makes them about 10 times as efficient at absorbing sound than any of our sound absorbers.

"At the University of Bristol, we have now cracked how they do it, we have transferred it to the human audible range, and we are currently developing sonic wallpaper that makes our home and offices a healthier and quieter place.”

Holdereid and his team of researchers worked with the UK's national synchrotron science facility, Diamond Light Source, whose imaging of the wings played a "crucial role" in the findings.

According to Diamond Light Source, the goal is to improve living conditions as such moth-inspired sound absorbers can be 90% thinner and lighter than existing solutions, bringing exotic materials like sound absorbing wallpaper in reach. 

Revisit our 2019 guide on how to soundproof your own studio.