Scientists have created a sound absorber from a fungus

Continuous chatting of employees in the office, who are always on the phone, or loud music

a noisy neighbor is a source of stress for many people.Scientists have proven that ambient sound affects human well-being and health. Sound absorbers can improve room acoustics. Many soundproofing panels used for wall or room decoration in modern interior design are made from mineral fibers or synthetic foams. The problem is that many of these materials are environmentally unsafe. In an effort to bring a greener and more efficient alternative to the market, scientists have created a prototype sound absorber made from fungal materials.

The focus is now on plantsubstrates and mycelium to develop new materials. Recall that the mycelium is a vegetative body of the fungus, which has the ability to change its structure, while forming special organs that ensure reliable attachment to the substrate, nutrition and subsequent reproduction. In fact, the mycelium is nothing more than the mycelium familiar to everyone. The mycelium consists of a thin network of filamentous hyphae. Hypha is a filamentous formation in fungi, consisting of cells or containing many nuclei. The main function of hyphae is to absorb water and nutrients. In its natural habitat, mycelium grows underground, where it can cover an area of ​​more than a square kilometer.

Scientists are growing hyphae in an ongoing projectin the laboratory. The mycelium is first mixed with a plant substrate consisting of straw, wood and food waste and then printed in the desired shape using a 3D printer. “The mycelium hyphae spread throughout the substrate and create a strong structure. After the mycelium has penetrated the fine-grained substrate, the product is oven dried to kill the fungus. The walls of the cells of the resulting material are open, which means that it will absorb sound. Thanks to its open cells and 3D printed porous structure, it is ideal for sound insulation.

3D printing of mycelium-based sample. Credit: Fraunhofer UMSICHT.

Sound absorbers made from materials onbased on the fungus, have a number of advantages - they are effective, environmentally friendly and help to save resources. Moreover, the material penetrated by mycelium has a strong structure. This means that much thinner layers can be used to make sound absorbers.

Possible applications of this mycelialmaterials are not limited to acoustics. The prospects for using mycelium as a base material for fungal skins, tissues and plastics also look promising. In the future, materials based on the fungus can be used not only for the production of sound absorbers and insulation materials, but also for clothing, furniture and housings for electrical appliances. Relevant studies are already underway.

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