Acoustic wallpaper inspired by moths

Researchers at the University of Bristol found that the wings of moths are excellent sound absorbers, which could lead to acoustic wallpaper in the future.

The researchers found that moth wings offer acoustic protection from bat echolocation calls. The structure of the scales on the wings helps the moth escape the hungry bat by absorbing the echolocation, rather than having it bounce back and betraying their location.

The researchers studied if the wings’ structure would also work if placed in front of an acoustically highly reflective surface, such as a wall. They placed small sections of moth wings on an aluminium disc, then systematically tested how orientation of the wing with respect to the incoming sound and the removal of scale layers affected absorption.

Even when on top of an acoustical solid substrate, the wings absorbed as much as 87% of the incoming sound energy on a wide range of frequencies. This means that even thin surfaces can work acoustically, and could potentially lead to ultra-thin acoustic panels, like wallpaper, which is the next step in the research.

Photos: University of Bristol