Graphene, the hexagonal crystalline carbon material, has been lauded as the linchpin of future technology for the last few years. Last month, it’s range of impressive applications extended to the music components world.
Physicists at the University of California, Berkeley announced on March 13 that they had built a pair of earphones that performed with a near flat frequency response using just a few layers of graphene as the speaker’s diaphragm.
The scientists’ headphones’ design is rudimentary, featuring the thin graphene membrane between two electrodes. Sound is emitted through small “windows” in the electrodes. Where other materials would break, a thinner diaphragm design is possible with graphene because of its resilient physical qualities. This allows the air around the electric field to dampen the signal naturally and eliminates the need for inefficient extra damping to round out the frequency response.
“Even without optimization, the speaker is able to produce excellent frequency response across the whole audible region (20 Hz~20 KHz), comparable or superior to performance of conventional-design commercial counterparts,” said Qin Zhou and Alex Zettl, both at the UC, Berkeley.
Along with their impressive performance, the graphene earphones use less energy making future applications with battery powered devices promising.
For music producers and engineers, there’s always a push to get better, “truer” sonic reproduction for music mixing, mastering and playback. With its apparent natural flat response, it’s safe to assume that speaker manufacturers will be looking toward graphene in developing new monitor and headphone designs in the near future.
As with many other future technology developments, it’s safe to only expect that you’ll be seeing more of this multi-use material in electronic and music production components moving forward.