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Acoustic holograms developed by engineers could have medical applications

Engineers at Duke and North Carolina State University have developed acoustic holograms that could improve medical treatments and offer new ways of manipulating materials and sound, Engineering.com reported.

Similar to visual holograms, which are made up of pixels and light beams that give the impression of a 3-D object, acoustic holograms control sound waves to make 3-D patterns, the source explained. Acoustic holograms can improve the depth of sound, or project sound to a certain area.

These findings, published in a study in Scientific Reports, are noteworthy because they provide a way to manipulate sound waves – a process that requires an immense amount of power – with a small, contained system.

Acoustic holograms could be used to improve and streamline ultrasounds, which already use sound wave manipulation but with a large system. With sound wave manipulation, scientists may be able to create ultrasound treatments that target and eliminate unhealthy tissues without harming nearby healthy cells, according to LiveScience.

The method also may present opportunities for controlling the movement of objects in the air, as well as improving sound design and equipment such as speakers, the source noted.