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Research Group: Acoustics Group

Currently Active: 

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 Propulsion Systems Noise .

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.



Contact us

Institute of Sound and Vibration Research
School of Engineering
Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences
University of Southampton
Highfield Campus
Southampton SO17 1BJ


Tel: +44 (0)23 8059 2291


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




Journal Special Issue


Working Paper

List of related projects to Acoustics Group
Related ProjectsStatus
Clean water and green energy from waste using bubble acousticsActive
Medical ultrasound exposure estimation in finite-amplitude beamsActive
Invention outperforms clinicians monitoring kidney treatment in patients Active
Order to chaos and back againActive
Object-based Room CompensationActive
Acoustics of turbofan duct systemsActive
Mode-matching for duct acousticsActive
Dolphin-inspired radar for finding bombs, bugs and catastrophe victimsActive
Investigation into the use of numerical methods to create a virtual sound environmentActive
Whales hunt with wall of soundActive
Bubble detectors invented for the USA's Oak Ridge National Laboratory $1.4 billion Spallation Neutron Source Active
Modelling next generation CROR aircraftActive
Blast location in mines and tunnels.Active
Hydrant Dynamics for Acoustic Leak DetectionActive
Detection and identification of difficult maritime targetsActive
The sounds of voices and waterfalls on other planetsActive
Acoustic Source Location Techniques on Aircraft EnginesActive
Are some people suffering as a result of increasing mass exposure of the public to ultrasound in air?Active
Optical measurement of high amplitude medical ultrasound fieldsActive
Signal processing for underwater acousticsActive
3D gel dosimetry in radiotherapy using ultrasonic methods Active
Development of models for the prediction of fan broadband noiseActive
StarStream (2007-2015) - Cleaning with low volumes of cold waterActive
Sound radiation from jet exhaustsActive
Corrosion detection in small diameter buried steel gas pipes Active
Anthropogenic noise from offshore wind farm constructionActive
No-flow rig tests of turbofan ducts in ISVR no-flow facilityActive
The measurement of Pelvic Floor Muscle (PFM) function in women using 2D dynamic ultrasoundActive
StarSteam (2016 onwards)Active
World's first experiment tests for leaks from carbon capture and storage seabed facilitiesActive
Liner technology Active
Investigation into the use of statistics for analysing listening test dataActive
Scattering of turbine tonesActive
"Buzz-saw" noise and nonlinear acousticsActive
Brain inspired speech enhancerActive
Locally resonant sonic materialsActive
Invention to improve food safety: Ultrasonic Salad CleaningActive
Do dolphins think nonlinearly?Active
StarSaver - cleaning wounds when water is scarceActive
Installed turbofan and open rotor noiseActive
Acoustics of high performance transmission-line loudspeakersActive
Characterising the low-frequency performance of loudspeakersActive
Measurement of materials under ocean conditionsActive
Acoustic imaging inside aircraft engine ducts to help design quieter enginesActive
Determining aircraft engine combustion noise from acoustic imaging measurements.Active
Detecting leaks from undersea gas pipelines, seabed methane reserves, and carbon capture and storage facilitiesActive
Minimising the environmental impact of advanced aircraft designsActive
Man-made underwater sound may have wider ecosystem effects than previously thoughtActive
Finite element methods for aircraft noise predictionDormant
The influence of surfactants on the mechanisms of ocean bubble formation Dormant
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