Engineering and the Environment

Research Group: Acoustics Group

We undertake projects ranging from fundamental science to real-world applications and are active in three major areas: aeroacoustics of aircraft engines; ultrasonics and underwater acoustics; and noise source imaging and virtual acoustics. The Group includes the Rolls-Royce University Technology Centre in Gas Turbine Noise.

Currently Active: Yes

Group Overview

Ultrasonic and underwater acoustics

Sound travels better in water than any other form of signal, and research in the Centre for Ultrasonics and Underwater Acoustics (UAUA) brings together acousticians, oceanographers, archaeologists, zoologists, geophysical surveyors and chemists, who explore questions such as:

  • What would a waterfall sound like on Titan, Saturn's largest moon? How could this have enhanced the Cassini-Huygens probe mission?

  • How do dolphins think and how can this be exploited to protect shipping?

  • Can we produce 3D pictures of shipwrecks, hidden for hundreds fof years under the mud at the bottom of the sea? Can we undertake archaeology without disturbing the wreck?

  • Do humpback whales create 'walls of sound' to trap prey and how can we exploit this phenomenon to protect seals from the noise of piling in harbours?

  • How can we use sound to monitor the annual transfer of billions of tonnes of atmospheric gases into the ocean and back again – a process of key importance to our climate and its stability?

The themes of exploration and discovery underpin UAUA's research, and key activities range from climate studies to the protection of marine mammals. Using an interdisciplinary approach, UAUA takes projects from fundamental science to real-world applications.

Biomedical and high-power ultrasonics

In addition to our oceanographic activities, we conduct research which addresses a range of biomedical issues, such as how ultrasound can be exploited to change chemical reactions and therefore help industries become cleaner and more efficient.

Our research has led to developments in many areas, including:

  • a 'smart stethoscope' to assess the effectiveness of ultrasound in destroying kidney stones

  • an ultrasound system to detect osteoporosis and the general health of bone

  • a method for assessing muscle quality using ultrasound

  • techniques that enable industry to assess the effectiveness of ultrasonic devices designed
    to clean surgical instruments, circuit boards and other tools

  • techniques to detect erosion in pipelines

  • a discovery that could help electroplating  companies become cleaner and more efficient through the use of acoustics.

We have also contributed to a national study looking at the use of ultrasound to treat tumours and have advised on the safe use of ultrasound (eg for foetal scanning). These studies are carried out in collaboration with a range of hospitals, including Guy's and St Thomas', London; the Institute of Cancer Research; Churchill Hospital, Oxford; Southampton General Hospital; and Chemistry at the University of Southampton.

Aeroacoustics and nonlinear acoustics

Aeroacoustics is the study of aerodynamically generated sound. The Acoustics Group supports a substantial programme of research in aeroacoustics which focuses on reducing aircraft noise. This is a particularly challenging problem since aircraft noise is generated by multiple sources, many of which are associated with turbulent, unsteady motion. All must be reduced to achieve a significant reduction in overall noise. Aircraft noise is a major nuisance for residents who live close to airports, and a significant environmental constraint on the growth of commercial aviation. Our Group is home to the Rolls-Royce University Technology Centre (UTC) in Gas Turbine Noise which forms part of the global Rolls-Royce research network and undertakes research on all aspects of aircraft noise. The activities of the UTC include theoretical, computational and experimental studies of aircraft noise sources and the development of robust noise prediction tools. Areas of particular interest are the design of acoustic liners to reduce noise radiated from intake and bypass ducts, the development of improved models for fan broadband noise and jet noise, and their integration within whole aircraft noise prediction schemes. We are also responsible for developing and exploiting advanced measurement techniques for rig and full-scale engine noise tests, and for appraising noise data acquired in industrial test facilities by Rolls-Royce and other industrial partners.

Electroacoustics, virtual acoustics, imaging and inverse methods

In ISVR, we are actively researching the use of inverse methods in acoustics. For example, one project is developing visual head-tracking methods that enable digital filters in virtual audio to be updated in real time in response to listeners' head movements. Further work is under way on optimal source distribution, which provides effective loudspeaker design for 3D sound and signal processing principle which enables lossless crosstalk cancellation process.

Inverse methods are also being applied to microphone array technology in two areas: the development of circular microphone arrays for speech and the use of microphone arrays to assess the noise radiated from aircraft jet engines, both in the outdoor environment and in an indoor test cell. Work is also continuing to assess and improve the low-frequency performance of loudspeakers and listening rooms.

Contact us

  • ISVR Unit

    Engineering and the Environment
    University of Southampton
    Highfield Campus
    Southampton SO17 1BJ


    Tel: +44 (0)23 8059 2291



Selected publications associated with this group from the University of Southampton's electronic library (e-prints):


Poletti, Marc A. and Fazi, Filippo Maria (2015) An approach to generating two zones of silence with application to personal sound systems. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 137, (2), 598-605. (doi:10.1121/1.4906582).
Lloyd, Thomas P., Turnock, Stephen R. and Humphrey, Victor F. (2014) Assessing the influence of inflow turbulence on noise and performance of a tidal turbine using large eddy simulations. Renewable Energy, 71, 742-754. (doi:10.1016/j.renene.2014.06.011).
Blackford, Jerry, Stahl, Henrik, Bull, Jonathan M., Bergès, Benoît J.P., Cevatoglu, Melis, Lichtschlag, Anna, Connelly, Douglas, James, Rachael H., Kita, Jun, Long, Dave, Naylor, Mark, Shitashima, Kiminori, Smith, Dave, Taylor, Peter, Wright, Ian, Akhurst, Maxine, Chen, Baixin, Gernon, Tom M., Hauton, Chris, Hayashi, Masatoshi, Kaieda, Hideshi, Leighton, Timothy G., Sato, Toru, Sayer, Martin D.J., Suzumura, Masahiro, Tait, Karen, Vardy, Mark E., White, Paul R. and Widdicombe, Steve (2014) Detection and impacts of leakage from sub-seafloor deep geological carbon dioxide storage. Nature Climate Change, 4, 1011-1016. (doi:10.1038/NCLIMATE2381).
Wright, M.C.M., Winter, I.M. and Forster, J.J. et al. (2014) Response to best-frequency tone bursts in the ventral cochlear nucleus is governed by ordered inter-spike interval statistics. Hearing Research, 317, 23-32. (doi:10.1016/j.heares.2014.09.006). (PMID:25261771).
Shin, Mincheol, Fazi, Filippo Maria, Nelson, Philip Arthur and Casagrande Hirono, Fabio (2014) Controlled sound field with a dual layer loudspeaker array. Journal of Sound and Vibration, 333, (16), 3794-3817. (doi:10.1016/j.jsv.2014.03.025).
Brambley, E.J. and Gabard, G. (2014) Reflection of an acoustic line source by an impedance surface with uniform flow. Journal of Sound and Vibration, 333, (21), 5548-5565. (doi:10.1016/j.jsv.2014.05.026).
Gabard, G. and Brambley, E.J. (2014) A full discrete dispersion analysis of time-domain simulations of acoustic liners with flow. Journal of Computational Physics, 273, (15), 310-326. (doi:10.1016/
Holland, K.R. and Nelson, P.A. (2013) The application of inverse methods to spatially-distributed acoustic sources. Journal of Sound and Vibration, 332, (22), 5727-5747. (doi:10.1016/j.jsv.2013.06.009).
Gill, James, Zhang, Xin and Joseph, Phillip F. (2013) Symmetric airfoil geometry effects on leading edge noise. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 134, (4), 2669-2680. (doi:10.1121/1.4818769).
Leighton, T.G., Chua, Gim Hwa, White, P.R., Tong, K.F., Griffiths, H.D. and Daniels, D.J. (2013) Radar clutter suppression and target discrimination using twin inverted pulses. Proceedings of The Royal Society A: Mathematical Physical and Engineering Sciences, 469, (2160), 1-14. (doi:10.1098/rspa.2013.0512).
Yuan, Bo, Humphrey, Victor F., Wen, Jihong and Wen, Xisen (2013) On the coupling of resonance and Bragg scattering effects in three-dimensional locally resonant sonic materials. Ultrasonics, 53, (7), 1332-1343. (doi:10.1016/j.ultras.2013.03.019).
Fernandez Comesana, Daniel, Steltenpool, Steven, Carrillo Pousa, Graciano, de Bree, Hans-Elias and Holland, Keith R. (2013) Scan and paint: theory and practice of a sound field visualization method. ISRN Mechanical Engineering, 2013, 241958-[11pp]. (doi:10.1155/2013/241958).
McAlpine, A., Powles, C.J. and Tester, B.J. (2013) A weak-scattering model for turbine-tone haystacking. Journal of Sound and Vibration, 332, (16), 3806-3831. (doi:10.1016/j.jsv.2013.02.023).
Gabard, G. (2013) A comparison of impedance boundary conditions for flow acoustics. Journal of Sound and Vibration, 332, (4), 714-724. (doi:10.1016/j.jsv.2012.10.014).
Leighton, T. G., Turangan, C.K., Jamaluddin, A.R., Ball, G.J. and White, P.R. (2013) Prediction of far-field acoustic emissions from cavitation clouds during shock wave lithotripsy for development of a clinical device. Proceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences, 469, (2150), 20120538-[21pp]. (doi:10.1098/rspa.2012.0538).
Wang, Lian S., Robinson, Stephen P., Theobald, Pete, Lepper, Paul A., Hayman, Gary and Humphrey, Victor F. (2013) Measurement of radiated ship noise. Proceedings of Meetings on Acoustics , 17, 070091-[10pp]. (doi:10.1121/1.4792663).
Chong, T.P., Joseph, P.F. and Kingan, M.J. (2013) An investigation of airfoil tonal noise at different Reynolds numbers and angles of attack. Applied Acoustics, 74, (1), 38-48. (doi:10.1016/j.apacoust.2012.05.016).
Fazi, Filippo Maria and Nelson, Philip A. (2013) Sound field reproduction as an equivalent acoustical scattering problem. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 134, (5), 3721-3729. (doi:10.1121/1.4824343).
McAlpine, Alan, Daymond-King, Alex and Kempton, Andrew (2012) Sound radiation from a flanged inclined duct. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 132, (6), 3637-3646. (doi:10.1121/1.4764883).
McAlpine, A., Schwaller, P.J.G., Fisher, M.J. and Tester , B.J. (2012) "Buzz-saw" noise: prediction of the rotor-alone pressure field. Journal of Sound and Vibration, 331, (22), 4901-4918. (doi:10.1016/j.jsv.2012.06.009).
McAlpine, A. and Kingan, Michael J. (2012) Far-field sound radiation due to an installed open rotor. International Journal of Aeroacoustics, 11, (2), 213-245. (doi:10.1260/1475-472X.11.2.213).
Attenborough, Keith, Wright, M.C.M. and Umnova, Olga (2012) Mathematics summer schools for acoustics research training. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 131, (3), 2532-2538. (doi:10.1121/1.3676731).

Conference or Workshop Item

Fazi, Filippo Maria, Shin, Mincheol, Olivieri, Ferdinando, Fontana, Simone and Yue, Lang (2014) Comparison of pressure-matching and mode-matching beamforming methods for circular loudspeaker arrays. In, 137th AES Convention, Los Angeles, US, 09 - 12 Oct 2014.


Members of staff associated with this group:

Research projects

Research projects associated with this group:

Acoustic source arrays for the generation of private sound zones with mobile devices

Sound field reproduction with non-uniform source distributions

Analysis of interstage liners for turbofan engines

Effects of hard patch in turbofan ducts

Investigation into the use of numerical methods to create a virtual sound environment

Near field calibration techniques for large transducers

Liner technology

Whales hunt with wall of sound

Modelling next generation CROR aircraft

Synthetic turbulence for broadband fan noise simulations

Minimising the environmental impact of advanced aircraft designs

Acoustic fatigue

Dolphin-inspired radar for finding bombs, bugs and catastrophe victims

Fundamentals of spatial audio reproduction

Beamforming applications in aeroacoustics

Perceptual models for sound field analysis and synthesis

Measurement of scapular (shoulder blade) movements (kinematics)

Wave-based numerical methods for aero-acoustics

3D audio technologies for virtual reality

Bubble Acoustics

Finite element methods for aircraft noise prediction

Investigation into loudspeaker cabinet vibration using reciprocity

No-flow rig tests of turbofan ducts in ISVR no-flow facility

Externalisation of auditory images with in-ear transducers

Actran shell code development and refinement

Experimental investigation of jet wing interaction effects (SYMPHONY)

Perception of movie dialogue loudness in different rooms

The measurement of Pelvic Floor Muscle (PFM) function in women using 2D dynamic ultrasound

Do dolphins think nonlinearly?

Sound radiation from jet exhausts

Describing sound scenes for next-generation audio

Complex sound field representation

Biomedical and High Power Ultrasonics

Noise from ducted underwater turbines

Aeroacoustics of viscous flows

Study of trailing edge serrations for low airfoil noise

Intake liner optimization

Stochastic methods for computational aero-acoustics

Numerical investigations of the true sources of jet noise

Noise issues associated with wind energy

Measurement of anthropogenic noise from marine aggregate extraction

Noise and Vibration Control

Virtual acoustics imaging system for multiple listeners using an auditory process model for sound localization

Medical ultrasound exposure estimation in finite-amplitude beams

Liner and geometry effects at low frequencies in intakes

Invention outperforms clinicians monitoring kidney treatment in patients

The sounds of voices and waterfalls on other planets

Acoustics of turbofan duct systems

Passive vibration isolation using nonlinear characteristics

Prediction of groundborne noise and vibration in buildings

Next Generation Recording Technology

The Adhesion Rail Riddle - Ensuring Trains Can Brake

Optical measurement of high amplitude medical ultrasound fields

Array signal processing for test cell acoustic measurements

The influence of surfactants on the mechanisms of ocean bubble formation

Improved models for jet wing installation effects prediction (SYMPHONY)

Modelling cruise noise of Advanced Open Rotor Power Aircraft (NINHA)

Whole Aircraft Noise Prediction and Assessment (SYMPHONY)

Jet noise from instability mode interactions

Detection and identification of difficult maritime targets

Effects of Vibration and Low-Frequency Motions on Passengers and Crew

Development of models for the prediction of fan broadband noise

Characterising the low-frequency performance of loudspeakers

Nonlinear sources in air

High-frequency sound transmission in flow ducts

Electroacoustical inverse problems

Determining aircraft engine combustion noise from acoustic imaging measurements.

Blast location in mines and tunnels.

Auralization combining finite element and geometrical acoustic methods

Anthropogenic noise from offshore wind farm construction

Generalized sampling theorem with Sperhical Harmonics

Locally resonant sonic materials

Bypass liner optimization and parametric study

Integrated study of tonal noise from Advanced Open Rotor Powered Aircraft

Improved Liner Impedance Prediction - VU20

Underwater noise of dredging vessels during aggregate extraction operations

Prediction, optimisation and measurement of liner performance in fan ducts

Optimisation of nacelle liners for reducing fan noise in aero-engines

Underwater anthropogenic noise

RANS based prediction methods for jet noise (SYMPHONY)

Detecting leaks from undersea gas pipelines, seabed methane reserves, and carbon capture and storage facilities

Bleed valve assessment and prediction (SYMPHONY)

Real time sonographic characteristics of the abdominal and pelvic floor muscles in subjects with sacroiliac dysfunction during respiratory, postural and voluntary manoeuvres

Wind Farm Noise

Investigation into the use of statistics for analysing listening test data

Development of 3-channel OPSODIS 3D sound reproduction system

Scattering of turbine tones

"Buzz-saw" noise and nonlinear acoustics

Listener Position Adaptive Audio Reproduction

3D gel dosimetry in radiotherapy using ultrasonic methods

Electroacoustics, Virtual Acoustics, Imaging, and Inverse Methods

Application of compressed sensing to acoustical engineering

System for aircraft noise prediction

Acoustic source strength reconstruction in reverberant environments

Acoustic imaging inside aircraft engine ducts to help design quieter engines

Ray methods for propagation of jet noise

Ultrasonics and Underwater Acoustics

Aeroacoustics and Non-linear Acoustics

Computational simulation of engine noise radiation using Discontinuous Galerkin Methods

Order to chaos and back again

Bubble detectors invented for the USA's Oak Ridge National Laboratory $1.4 billion Spallation Neutron Source

Stochastic noise source for broadband noise simulations

Variability and uncertainty in vibroacoustics

The advanced contra-rotating open rotor (CROR)

Installed open rotor noise

Anthropogenic Noise from Offshore Wind Farm Construction

Perception of a virtual 3D acoustic space over headphones

Compression Driver Phase Plugs

Acoustics of high performance transmission-line loudspeakers

Sonar System Development

Innovative microphone arrays with an unconventional geometry

Acoustic calibration of a high-speed wind tunnel

Wideband sound absorbers for room acoustic control

Measurement of materials under ocean conditions

Bleed valve noise assessment and prediction

Improved optimisation of liner in intake ducts

StarStream - Cleaning with low volumes of cold water

Mode-matching for duct acoustics

Shaping the future of systems for personalized audio

Postgraduate opportunities

You can find all of our projects with guaranteed funding here.