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August 30 2013

Transparent gel speaker ushers in a future of 'soft machines'

How would you like a speaker system in your living room that was completely clear? Or, better yet, an active noise-canceling window that could mute the outside? The technology is already here, and a team of materials scientists at Harvard is showing us what’s now possible with ionic conduction, or using ions to carry the current that powers this new generation of electronics. The principle is embodied in the team's clear, disc-shaped speaker, details of which are published in the August 30th issue of Science.

The speaker consists of two layers of saltwater gel sandwiched around a thin rubber sheet.

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