Scientists have created 3-D holograms simply from sound — and the work could improve the efficiency of medical technologies like ultrasounds. Acoustic holograms are made by manipulating sound waves in much the same way visual holograms manipulate light waves. Engineers at Duke and North Carolina State University 3-D printed a coil made of a special plastic that houses a spiral inside. The tightness of that spiral helps to determine how sound waves travel through the material, making an acoustic hologram. They were able to harness that technique to spin sound waves off toward selected hot spots. That’s the same thinking behind medical ultrasounds, which can control sound waves to image specific parts of the human body. But those ultrasounds use a small stick attached to a much larger machine, consuming space and a large amount of energy. The new technology could be used one day to create smaller, more energy-efficient ultrasounds.
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