Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Making music on a microscopic scale

Date:
September 29, 2010
Source:
University of Twente
Summary:
Strings a fraction of the thickness of a human hair, with microscopic weights to pluck them: Researchers and students have succeeded in constructing the first musical instrument with dimensions measured in mere micrometers -- a 'micronium' -- that produces audible tones. A composition has been specially written for the instrument.

Image of the chip containing six mass-spring systems (i.e. six tones).
Credit: Image courtesy of University of Twente

Strings a fraction of the thickness of a human hair, with microscopic weights to pluck them: Researchers and students from the MESA+ Institute for Nanotechnology of the University of Twente in The Netherlands have succeeded in constructing the first musical instrument with dimensions measured in mere micrometres -- a 'micronium' -- that produces audible tones. A composition has been specially written for the instrument.

Related Articles


Earlier musical instruments with these minimal dimensions only produced tones that are inaudible to humans. But thanks to ingenious construction techniques, students from the University of Twente have succeeded in producing scales that are audible when amplified. To do so, they made use of the possibilities offered by micromechanics: the construction of moving structures with dimensions measured in micrometres (a micrometre is a thousandth of a millimetre). These miniscule devices can be built thanks to the ultra-clean conditions in a 'clean room', and the advanced etching techniques that are possible there.

"You can see comparable technology used in the Wii games computer for detecting movement, or in sensors for airbags," says PhD student Johan Engelen, who devised and led the student project.

Tuning

The tiny musical instrument is made up of springs that are only a tenth of the thickness of a human hair, and vary in length from a half to a whole millimetre. A mass of a few dozen micrograms is hung from these springs. The mass is set in motion by so-called 'comb drives': miniature combs that fit together precisely and shift in relation to each other, so 'plucking' the springs and creating sounds. The mass vibrates with a maximum deflection of just a few micrometres. This minimal movement can be accurately measured, and produces a tone. Each tone has its own mass spring system, and six tones fit on a microchip. By combining a number of chips, a wider range of tones can be achieved. "The tuning process turned out to be the greatest challenge," says Engelen. "We can learn a lot from this project for the construction of other moving structures. Above all, this is a great project for introducing students to micromechanics and clean room techniques."

The micronium played a leading role at the opening of a two-day scientific conference on micromechanics in the Atak music venue in Enschede on September 27 and 28. A composition has been specially written for the instrument: 'Impromptu No. 1 for Micronium' by Arvid Jense, who is studying MediaMusic at the conservatorium in Enschede.

A scientific paper -- 'A musical instrument in MEMS' -- has also been devoted to the instrument, and this will be presented to the conference by Johan Engelen. The project was carried out by the Transducers Science and Technology group led by Professor Miko Elwenspoek. The group forms a part of the MESA+ Institute for Nanotechnology of the University of Twente.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Twente. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Twente. "Making music on a microscopic scale." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 September 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100928083836.htm>.
University of Twente. (2010, September 29). Making music on a microscopic scale. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100928083836.htm
University of Twente. "Making music on a microscopic scale." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100928083836.htm (accessed December 22, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Matter & Energy News

Monday, December 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Will New A350 Help Airbus Fly?

Will New A350 Help Airbus Fly?

Reuters - Business Video Online (Dec. 22, 2014) Qatar Airways takes first delivery of Airbus' new A350 passenger jet. As Joel Flynn reports it's the planemaker's response to the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and the culmination of eight years of development. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Man Parachutes Off Lawn Chair Airlifted By Helium Balloons

Man Parachutes Off Lawn Chair Airlifted By Helium Balloons

Buzz60 (Dec. 22, 2014) A BASE jumper rides a lawn chair, a shotgun, and a giant bunch of helium balloons into the sky in what seems like a country version of the movie 'Up." Jen Markham has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Touch-Free Smart Phone Empowers Mobility-Impaired

Touch-Free Smart Phone Empowers Mobility-Impaired

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) A touch-free phone developed in Israel enables the mobility-impaired to operate smart phones with just a movement of the head. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Existing Chemical Compounds Could Revive Failing Antibiotics, Says Danish Scientist

Existing Chemical Compounds Could Revive Failing Antibiotics, Says Danish Scientist

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) A team of scientists led by Danish chemist Jorn Christensen says they have isolated two chemical compounds within an existing antipsychotic medication that could be used to help a range of failing antibiotics work against killer bacterial infections, such as Tuberculosis. Jim Drury went to meet him. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins