UNL makes the world’s most sensitive microphone

Posted By: Rachel Hofstra

UNL is developing a new piece of technology.

It’s the world’s newest and most sensitive microphone.

"The application should not only be limited to Nebraska, it should serve the whole human kind," said UNL Professor Qin Zhou.

This new device could be used to improve our ability to hear sounds in the deep ocean. But it also has the potential to do much more than that.

"This device does not just work in water, they also work in air. So they can also be used as a pressure sensor and listen to heart beats. Also because they are very flexible, very soft, like a piece of Jello, so it can be put on the body or it can be put even inside the body," said Professor Li Tan.

The microphone is smaller than a penny, but thousands of times more sensitive than any other existing devices.

"The sensor is different from other devices in the market because it is made mostly out of water," said Professor Tan.

Its unique material doesn’t reflect sound which leaves it undetectable to life forms. The engineers started this project back in 2015, but they are already testing the material and working through different obstacles. One of the downfalls to the current model is it only works for about a week in the water.

"It’s like you put some metal in a damp environment it starts rusting, so it’s that kind of effect that makes our sensor become less and less efficient as time goes on," said Professor Zhou.

The professors are searching for different materials to work with to overcome this challenge. They say it will take years to perfect this device, but it will be worth the wait.