Folding Transducer Array for Compact and Deployable Wave-Energy Guiding System

A novel acoustic/ultrasonic wave-energy guiding system that utilizes structural topology to enhance directional and spectral sensitivities instead of phase delay, offering exceptional versatility and adaptable performance.

The Need

Although acoustic beamforming systems that are based on phase delays can be used to enhance directional and spectral sensitivities, each source or receiver must be individually controlled by appropriate phase delays to guide the acoustic energy radiation/reception sensitivities. This results in a massive computational burden in order to realize intense confinement of acoustic waves in angular regions or to achieve focusing at specific spatial locations, particularly at high frequencies. The spatial distribution in such systems may also result in physically large platforms. There is a need for a wave-energy guiding system with high sensitivity, reduced implementation complexity, substantially reduced computational burden and increased compactness and deployability.

The Technology

Ryan Harne at Ohio State University has developed a wave-energy guiding system that provides an alternative to phase delay technology by utilizing structural topology to enhance directional and spectral sensitivities. These origami-based engineering design techniques provide exceptional versatility and adaptable performance resulting in systems that can be made compact and selectively deployable. Origami-type folded structures provide periodic patterns of planar facets and acoustic arrays are composed of electromechanical transducers positioned on the planar elements, all of which are together driven by one or a few signals. Simple kinematic and mechanical transformations of this folding array topology can therefore govern the directional and spectral sensitivities for wave energy guiding and steering, in contrast to a multitude of individually controlled signals sent/received from a spatially-fixed, conventional array of acoustic sources/receivers. The Harne system further includes actuation mechanisms to controllably fold and unfold the structural substrate to provide tunable changes in functionality.


  • Orbital space and military missions: wave energy guiding/steering for antennae and force distribution
  • Long-range communications and targeted announcement systems
  • Force projection systems (e.g. non-lethal force; lithotripsy)
  • Biomedical imaging
  • Industrial monitoring
  • Ultrasonic cleaning systems


  • Spatial and spectral sensitivities can be tuned and steered by simple reconfigurations of the foldable transducer array
  • Tremendous wave energy may be strategically concentrated
    • For "Miura-ori"-type folding cells, 38 dB increase in radiated acoustic pressure at broadside location with 20° change in folding angle - a 10,000 times increase in acoustic power
  • Only a single "drive" signal is required to actuate all of the transducer elements positioned on each of the planar facets
  • Facet angle and/or voltage can be adjusted by feedback module during operation until performance output matches the desired performance output
  • Completely foldable for easy storage and/or transportation
  • Uses compliant, folded materials (e.g. cardstock; polypropylene; polyethylene)

Loading icon