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


What's related
    Other University of Southampton sites


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


    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).
    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).
    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).
    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).
    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).
    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).


    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

    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

    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

    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.

    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

    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

    Postgraduate opportunities

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