Topology optimization is a mathematical method for tuning a system’s shape or mass distribution to achieve a specific function or behavior. Used for more than two decades in structural mechanics—for such purposes as maximizing stiffness or minimizing cost—it has found application in numerous other areas, including acoustics. But regardless of how optimized the calculated designs are in theory, they must still satisfy such real-world constraints as manufacturability. The methodology must also be validated through real-world confirmation. Rasmus Christiansen, Ole Sigmund, and Efren Fernandez-Grande of the Technical University of Denmark now provide that validation in an acoustics setting: the topological optimization of an acoustic cavity. The design goal was to minimize, in two dimensions, the acoustic pressure in a 2 cm × 2 cm region (blue in the figure) near the lower right corner of an 18 cm × 9 cm rectangular cavity by allowing the shape of the upper...

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