Rewriting Life

Curtains on All That Noise

Hospitals and nursing homes can be noisy places, making it hard for people to sleep. To provide patients with some relief, researchers at Georgia Tech’s aerospace and transportation laboratory have made high-tech curtains consisting of sheets of fabric that sandwich a noise-dampening plastic. In tests, the curtains reduced noise levels by 12 decibels-roughly a factor of 16.

The curtains are scheduled for further trials in actual nursing homes. Krishan Ahuja, head of the acoustics and aerodynamics branch at the lab, says the drapes could also be used to cut noise in factories and offices. By using different materials in the middle of the curtains (the group has tested everything from cardboard to metal), the Georgia Tech scientists can adjust the level of noise reduction. Ahuja hopes the quiet curtains will be ready for commercialization within a year.

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