Physical modeling and characterization of thermo-acoustic loudspeakers made of silver nano-wire films
La Torraca P
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Recent developments of ultra-low heat capacity nanostructured materials revived the interest in the thermo-acoustic (TA) loudspeaker technology, which shows important advantages compared to the classical dynamic loudspeakers as they feature a lower cost and weight, flexibility, conformability to the surface of various shapes, and transparency. The development of the TA loudspeaker technology requires accurate physical models connecting the material properties to the thermal and acoustic speaker's performance. We present here a combined theoretical and experimental analysis of TA loudspeakers, where the electro-thermal and the thermo-acoustic transductions are handled separately, thus allowing an in-depth description of both the pressure and temperature dynamics. The electro-thermal transduction is analyzed by accounting for all the heat flow processes taking place between the TA loudspeaker and the surrounding environment, with focus on their frequency dependence. The thermo-acoustic conversion is studied by solving the coupled thermo-acoustic equations, derived from the Navier-Stokes equations, and by exploiting the Huygens-Fresnel principle to decompose the TA loudspeaker surface into a dense set of TA point sources. A general formulation of the 3D pressure field is derived summing up the TA point source contributions via a Rayleigh integral. The model is validated against temperature and sound pressure level measured on the TA loudspeaker sample made of a Silver Nanowire random network deposited on a polyimide substrate. A good agreement is found between measurements and simulations, demonstrating that the model is capable of connecting material properties to the thermo-acoustic performance of the device, thus providing a valuable tool for the design and optimization of TA loudspeakers. Published by AIP Publishing.