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Journal Article

Multi-Physics Simulation of Ultra-Lightweight Carbon Nanotube Speakers

Abstract Carbon Nanotube (CNT) thin film speakers produce sound with the thermoacoustic effect. Alternating current passes through the low heat capacity CNT thin film changing the surface temperature rapidly. CNT thin film does not vibrate; instead it heats and cools the air adjacent to the film, creating sound pressure waves. These speakers are inexpensive, transparent, stretchable, flexible, magnet-free, and lightweight. Because of their novelty, developing a model and better understanding the performance of CNT speakers is useful in technology development in applications that require ultra-lightweight sub-systems. The automotive industry is a prime example of where these speakers can be enabling technology for innovative new component design. Developing a multi-physics (Electrical-Thermal-Acoustical) FEA model, for planar CNT speakers is studied in this paper. The temperature variation on the CNT thin film is obtained by applying alternating electrical current to the CNT film.
Technical Paper

Continued Drive Signal Development for the Carbon Nanotube Thermoacoustic Loudspeaker Using Techniques Derived from the Hearing Aid Industry

Abstract Compared to moving coil loudspeakers, carbon nanotube (CNT) loudspeakers are extremely lightweight and are capable of creating sound over a broad frequency range (1 Hz to 100 kHz). The thermoacoustic effect that allows for this non-vibrating sound source is naturally inefficient and nonlinear. Signal processing techniques are one option that may help counteract these concerns. Previous studies have evaluated a hybrid efficiency metric, the ratio of the sound pressure level at a single point to the input electrical power. True efficiency is the ratio of output acoustic power to the input electrical power. True efficiency data are presented for two new drive signal processing techniques borrowed from the hearing aid industry. Spectral envelope decimation of an AC signal operates in the frequency domain (FCAC) and dynamic linear frequency compression of an AC signal operates in the time domain (TCAC). Each type of processing affects the true efficiency differently.