UA Engineers Twist Laws of Physics to Boost Sonic Science

This experimental laser ultrasonic setup in collaborator Nick Boechler's lab will create phonons with nature-defying characteristics. (Image courtesy of Nicholas Boechler)

MSE department head Pierre Deymier is bending sound waves in nature-defying ways that could quiet our cities, heal our bodies, provide new sources of energy, and compute and process information. 

For decades, advances in electronics and optics have driven progress in information technology, energy and biomedicine. Now researchers at the University of Arizona are pioneering a new field — phononics, the science of sound — with repercussions potentially just as profound.  

"If engineers can get acoustic waves to travel in unnatural ways, as they are starting to do with light waves, our world could look and sound radically different," said Deymier.

He has received $1.9 million from the National Science Foundation's Emerging Frontiers in Research and Innovation, or EFRI, program to lead a four-year study on manipulating how sound waves behave. His collaborators are Pierre Lucas, a UA professor of materials science and engineering, and Nicholas Boechler, assistant professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Washington. 

Deymier and Boechler will also chair and co-chair the Phononics 2019 international conference on phononic crystals and metamaterials in Tucson in June 2019, to promote this emerging body of research.

University of Arizona College of Engineering