Wayne State researchers win MTRAC competition and receive $100,000 to further LaSonics sound detection technology

Sean Wu and his research team
The LaSonics research team, which won a $100,000 prize from MTRAC (left to right): Yang Zhao, Antonio Figueroa, Sean Wu, Lingguang Chen and Cameron Ernest.

The Michigan Translational Research and Commercialization (MTRAC) Innovation Hub for Advanced Computing Technologies and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) awarded $100,000 to a Wayne State University research team led by Sean Wu, distinguished professor of mechanical engineering.

Their project, titled “Laser-assisted see-through technology for analyzing vibroacoustic issues facing the manufacturing industry,” has the potential to fundamentally change how sound sources are detected and located, with applications ranging from machinery noise control to military operations.

Wu and his team will use the funding to build and test a series of minimum viable prototypes for LaSonics, a patent-pending technology that enables one to hear and see through a solid enclosure to precisely locate the sound sources inside.

The functionality of LaSonics “can be likened to the X-ray to examine pathology inside a human body,” said Wu, a fellow of both the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the Acoustical Society of America.

Members of the research group include Yang Zhao, professor of electrical and computer engineering at Wayne State; mechanical engineering Ph.D. graduates Antonio Figueroa and Lingguang Chen; and master’s student Cameron Ernest.

The team will “collaborate with industry partners such as Magna Powertrain, Timken Company, Shiloh Industries and McLaren Engineering to examine the effectiveness and robustness of using LaSonics to determine the root causes, and thereby control, of noise and vibration in various automobile components,” said Wu.

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