A team of researchers from the University of Binghamton (United States) has discovered that the spider web can improve the quality of microphones for hearing aids, mobile phones, headphones and other devices that incorporate this component.
The scientists, led by Professor Ron Miles, have carried out a series of studies that analyze how insects listen in nature, with the aim of finding inspiration to improve our audio capturing devices. “We use the eardrums, which capture the sound direction based on the pressure, but most of the insects hear with their hair,” explains Miles.
Mosquitoes, flies and spiders have their bodies covered with fine hairs that move with the sound waves. The team has tried to reproduce this hearing system inside a microphone, and for this the perfect material was the spider web, which is able to capture the speed and direction of the air.
The scientists covered the web with a layer of gold and then applied a magnetic field to obtain an electronic signal. In this way, the system can translate the information of the air flow that receives the silk into a signal that the audio devices can use. Although the team used spiderweb, they note that the procedure would work with another type of fiber thin enough.
The microphone manufactured with this system has the ability to optimize directional detection, thanks to listening to a wide variety of frequencies that are too quiet for other microphones to capture. According to the results of the investigation, it can detect even infrasound at frequencies up to 3 Hz.
“It’s a fairly simple way to make an extremely efficient microphone that has better directional capabilities at a wide frequency,” says Miles.