As you and I are aware, sound is basically vibration in the air. Microphones translate those vibrations into electronic signals and pass the signals to something else – usually a computer.
Different types of microphone perform the task differently, but the electrets microphones in most tablets and smartphones do it by measuring the change in the distance between 2 plates inside a tiny capsule. When the sound wave comes along, the pressure inside the capsule changes and the plates move. This works pretty well.
A Binghamton University team of researchers believe there might be a better way. A graduate student Jian Zhou and Ron Miles think that we could learn from how insects listen to build more sensitive microphones.
Better for eardrum
According to Miles “We use our eardrums that pick up the direction of sound based on pressure, but most insects actually hear with their hairs.” The hairs that spread across our bodies move with the sound wave traveling through the air.
Miles and Zhou in a recently published study in the journal PNAS lay out a system that makes use of spider silk to do something similar. Miles said, “We coated spider silk with gold and put it in a magnetic field to obtain an electronic signal.”
Spider silk is thin that sound wave can make them move. The benefits of the extra fidelity is that it makes it more easy to filter out background noise, which is not only great for the microphones of mobile phones, but also hearing aid users and more.
Miles also said, “It’s actually a fairly simple way to make an extremely effective microphone that has better directional capabilities across a wide range of frequencies.”