A man is making sound-absorbing wallpaper based on moths’ wings

Current sound absorbers are thick by necessity, but a professor at the University of Bristol might have found a workaround…

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Credit: TikTok

A man in the south-west of England is on the cusp of revolutionising sound insulation, or so he believes. That is, by creating sound-absorbing wallpaper with a design based on the structure of a moth’s wing.

In a video posted to TikTok, Professor Marc Holderied of the University of Bristol says current sound absorbers are “way too thick” by necessity, but explains that he’s working on new technology that he hopes will drastically reduce the real estate required by sound absorbers.

“Evolution has found a way that brings this technology within reach,” he says. Moths, he explains, have evolved over the past 60 million years under the predation pressure of bats. That means they’ve now developed scales coating their wings, which Holderied calls a “secret weapon”.

“When sound hits them,” he continues, “they start to vibrate and that absorbs one frequency of sound; a frequency that this scale is tuned to.”

However, a moth’s wing is made up of lots of scales shaped differently and sized differently. That means each one absorbs sound at their frequency, which together absorbs everything.

“Now that is remarkable as it is,” he says, “but this is also an acoustic metamaterial which means the performance of the whole wing is better than the contributing parts of all the constituting scales.

“And that makes them about 10 times as efficient at absorbing sound than any of our sound absorbers. At the University of Bristol, we have now cracked how they do it, we have transferred it to the human audible range, and we are currently developing sonic wallpaper that makes our home and offices a healthier and quieter place.”

Watch the full video here:


We’ve developed sound-absorbing wallpaper 🦋😎 And its all thanks to Prof Marc Holdereid and a team of researchers who have been studying the intricate patterns on moth wings that help them evade detection by bats 🦇 You may have seen this on @BBC Springwatch this week 👀 #bristoluni #research #biologist #springwatch #innovation

♬ original sound – University of Bristol


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