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An acoustic rectifier


The detection of acoustic signals is of relevance for a range of practical applications, for example in medical diagnostics. However, whereas rectification of electric current and other energy forms such as thermal flux has been demonstrated1,2,3,4,5,6, acoustic rectification has not yet been achieved. Here, on the basis of the earlier theoretical proposal of an ‘acoustic diode’7, we present the first experimental demonstration of a rectified energy flux of acoustic waves. A one-dimensional acoustic rectifier is fabricated by coupling a superlattice with a layer of ultrasound contrast agent microbubble suspension. A significant rectifying effect is observed within two frequency bands at locations that agree well with theoretical predictions. Following optimization of the concentration of the microbubble suspension, rectifying ratios can be as high as 104. This realization of an acoustic rectifier should have substantial practical significance, for example in the focusing of ultrasound in medical applications.

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Figure 1: Schematic of the experimental system and the cross-section configuration of the AD structure.
Figure 2: Measured frequency dependence of acoustic transmission for the superlattice.
Figure 3: Comparison of the measured frequency dependence of acoustic transmissions along two opposite directions for the AD models formed with three different NLM samples.
Figure 4: Comparison of the rectifying ratios for the AD models formed with three different NLM samples.
Figure 5: Comparison of the pressure dependence of the transmitted acoustic energy flux for the AD models formed with three different NLM samples.


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This work was financially supported in part by National Basic Research Program 973 of China (Grant No. 2011CB707900), the National Science Foundation of China (Grant Nos. 10804050, 10874086, 10974093, 10704037, 10774072, 11074123 and 10974095), the Ministry of Education of China under Grant No 20060284035 and No 705017 and the Research Fund for the Doctoral Program (for new scholar) of Higher Education of China (20070284070).

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B.L., X.S.G. and J.T. carried out the experiments and interpreted the data. J.C.C. and D.Z. conceived and supervised the study. All of the authors wrote the paper.

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Correspondence to D. Zhang or J. C. Cheng.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Liang, B., Guo, X., Tu, J. et al. An acoustic rectifier. Nature Mater 9, 989–992 (2010).

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