A graphene microphone sounds even better than it sounds

27 Nov 2015

Yes, that’s right, graphene can even be used as a futuristic way of recording what you say, with researchers saying it could be 32-times more sensitive than a standard microphone.

Despite graphene already being described as the wonder material that missed the boat, a graphene microphone does actually make sound audio production sense, at least according to a team of researchers from the University of Belgrade in Serbia.

Standard microphones used in the entertainment and commercial industries, as well as scientific research, rely on a nickel-based construction that has been in use for decades.

Future Human

But now this Serbian research team says that it has created a vibrating membrane made up of 60 layers of graphene grown on to a nickel foil, which, it says, recorded sound at a 15 dB higher sensitivity at frequencies of 11kHz, according to Phys.org.

The team was even able to create a 300-layer thick graphene membrane, which could offer great potential for performance far into the ultrasonic part of the spectrum.

Experimental sounds

“The microphone performed as well as we hoped it would,” said one of the authors on the paper that presented the findings, Marko Spasenovic. “A thicker graphene membrane theoretically could be stretched further, enabling ultrasonic performance, but sadly we’re just not quite there yet experimentally.”

Of course, he says, the fact that we’ve yet to crack being able to produce large cost-efficient quantites of graphene limits its immediate use as a super-sensitive microphone of the future.

“At this stage there are several obstacles to making cheap graphene, so our microphone should be considered more a proof of concept,” he said.

“The industry is working hard to improve graphene production – eventually this should mean we have better microphones at lower cost.”

Microphone image via Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic