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Title:
ULTRASONIC TRANSDUCERS
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2017/053716
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
Ultrasonic transducers that include membrane films and perforated baseplates. An ultrasonic transducer includes a baseplate having a conductive surface with a plurality of apertures, openings, or perforations formed thereon or therethrough, and a membrane film having a conductive surface. The membrane film is positioned adjacent to the apertures, openings, or perforations formed on or through the baseplate. By applying a voltage between the conductive surface of the membrane film and the conductive surface of the baseplate, an electrical force of attraction can be created between the membrane film and the baseplate. Varying this applied voltage can cause the membrane film to undergo vibrational motion. The dimensions corresponding to the size and/or shape of the apertures, openings, or perforations formed on or through the baseplate can be varied so that different regions of the baseplate produce different frequency responses, allowing the net bandwidth of the ultrasonic transducer to be increased.

Inventors:
POMPEI, Frank Joseph (16 Peck Avenue, Wayland, Massachusetts, 01778, US)
Application Number:
US2016/053328
Publication Date:
March 30, 2017
Filing Date:
September 23, 2016
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
POMPEI, Frank Joseph (16 Peck Avenue, Wayland, Massachusetts, 01778, US)
International Classes:
H04R17/10; H04R7/12; H04R7/14; H04R7/16; H04R7/24
Foreign References:
US20020135272A12002-09-26
US6201874B12001-03-13
US20070164632A12007-07-19
US20080285777A12008-11-20
US20010033124A12001-10-25
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
CHAPIN, Barry W. et al. (352 Turnpike Road, Suite 110Southborough, Massachusetts, 01772, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

What is claimed is:

1. An ultrasonic transducer, comprising:

a perforated baseplate; and

a membrane film,

wherein the perforated baseplate has a plurality of apertures, openings, or perforations formed therethrough, and a plurality of dimples formed adjacent to and between at least some of the plurality of apertures, openings, or perforations, the perforated baseplate having upper portions adjacent or proximate to the plurality of dimples, respectively, and

wherein the membrane film is disposed adjacent or proximate to the upper portions of the perforated baseplate.

2. The ultrasonic transducer of claim 1 wherein the membrane film has a conductive surface and a non-conductive surface.

3. The ultrasonic transducer of claim 2 wherein the perforated baseplate is made of a conductive material, and wherein the non-conductive surface of the membrane film is disposed directly against the upper portions of the perforated baseplate made of conductive material. 4. The ultrasonic transducer of claim 2 wherein the perforated baseplate is made of a conductive material coated with an insulating material, and wherein the conductive surface of the membrane film is disposed directly against the upper portions of the perforated baseplate coated with the insulating material. 5. The ultrasonic transducer of claim 1 wherein the plurality of apertures, openings, or perforations formed through the perforated baseplate have corresponding dimensions, and wherein the dimensions of at least some of the plurality of apertures, openings, or perforations are configured to determine a frequency response of the ultrasonic transducer.

6. The ultrasonic transducer of claim 5 wherein the dimensions of at least some of the plurality of apertures, openings, or perforations are configured to vary across the perforated baseplate in order to cause different regions of the perforated baseplate to produce different frequency responses of the ultrasonic transducer.

7. The ultrasonic transducer of claim 1 wherein at least some of the plurality of apertures, openings, or perforations formed through the perforated baseplate are flared like acoustic horns.

8. The ultrasonic transducer of claim 1 further comprising:

one or more chamber structures disposed adjacent to the membrane film opposite the perforated baseplate, the one or more chamber structures being operative to redirect or reflect output energy from a non-radiating side of the perforated baseplate to a radiating side of the perforated baseplate. 9. The ultrasonic transducer of claim 8 wherein at least some of the chamber structures are aligned with at least some of the apertures, openings, or perforations, respectively, formed through the perforated baseplate.

10. An ultrasonic transducer, comprising:

a first perforated baseplate;

a second perforated baseplate; and

a membrane film,

wherein the first perforated baseplate has a plurality of first apertures, openings, or perforations formed therethrough, and a plurality of first dimples formed adjacent to and between at least some of the plurality of first apertures, openings, or perforations, the first perforated baseplate having upper portions adjacent or proximate to the plurality of first dimples, respectively,

wherein the second perforated baseplate has a plurality of second apertures, openings, or perforations formed therethrough, and a plurality of second dimples formed adjacent to and between at least some of the plurality of second apertures, openings, or perforations, the second perforated baseplate having upper portions adjacent or proximate to the plurality of second dimples, respectively, and

wherein the membrane film is disposed between the first perforated baseplate and the second perforated baseplate, the membrane film being adjacent or proximate to the upper portions of the first perforated baseplate and adjacent or proximate to the upper portions of the second perforated baseplate.

11. The ultrasonic transducer of claim 10 wherein the membrane film has conductive surfaces on opposing sides thereof, wherein each of the first perforated baseplate and the second perforated baseplate is made of conductive material, and wherein each of the first perforated baseplate and the second perforated baseplate is coated with an insulating material.

12. The ultrasonic transducer of claim 11 wherein the conductive surfaces on the opposing sides of the membrane film are disposed directly against (1) the upper portions of the first perforated baseplate coated with the insulating material, and (2) the upper portions of the second perforated baseplate coated with the insulating material, respectively.

13. The ultrasonic transducer of claim 10 wherein at least some of the plurality of first apertures, openings, or perforations formed through the first perforated baseplate, and at least some of the plurality of second apertures, openings, or perforations formed through the second perforated baseplate, are flared like acoustic horns.

14. The ultrasonic transducer of claim 10 further comprising:

one or more chamber structures disposed adjacent to one of the first perforated baseplate and the second perforated baseplate, the one or more chamber structures being operative to redirect or reflect output energy from a non-radiating side of the ultrasonic transducer to a radiating side of the ultrasonic transducer.

15. The ultrasonic transducer of claim 14 wherein at least some of the chamber structures are aligned with at least some of at least one of (1) the first apertures, openings, or perforations, respectively, formed through the first perforated baseplate, and (2) the second apertures, openings, or perforations, respectively, formed through the second perforated baseplate.

16. A method of manufacturing an ultrasonic transducer, the ultrasonic transducer having a baseplate and a membrane film, comprising:

forming a plurality of apertures, openings, or perforations through the baseplate, the forming of the plurality of apertures, openings, or perforations causing a plurality of dimples to be formed in the baseplate adjacent to and between at least some of the plurality of apertures, openings, or perforations, the baseplate having upper portions adjacent or proximate to the plurality of dimples, respectively; and

placing the membrane film adjacent or proximate to the upper portions of the baseplate.

17. The method of claim 16 further comprising:

flaring at least some of the plurality of apertures, openings, or perforations like acoustic horns, thereby increasing an output level of the ultrasonic transducer.

18. The method of claim 16 further comprising:

coating a surface of the membrane film with a conductive material, the membrane film having a non-conductive surface opposite the surface coated with the conductive material.

19. The method of claim 18 wherein the baseplate is made of a conductive material, and wherein the placing of the membrane film includes placing the non-conductive surface of the membrane film directly against the upper portions of the baseplate made of conductive material.

20. The method of claim 18 wherein the baseplate is made of a conductive material coated with an insulating material, and wherein the placing of the membrane film includes placing the surface coated with the conductive material directly against the upper portions of the baseplate coated with the insulating material.

Description:
ULTRASONIC TRANSDUCERS

Inventor: Frank Joseph Pompei

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS [0001] This application claims benefit of the priority of U.S. Provisional Patent

Application No. 62/222,916 filed September 24, 2015 entitled ULTRASONIC

TRANSDUCERS.

TECHNICAL FIELD

[0002] The present application relates generally to ultrasonic transducers, and more specifically to ultrasonic transducers that include perforated baseplates.

BACKGROUND

[0003] The physics of ultrasonic transducers generally involves a membrane film that is attracted to a surface, such as a surface of a baseplate, through the action of a variable electric field. The variable electric field can be produced by applying a voltage difference (e.g. , an AC voltage) between a conductive surface of the membrane film and a conductive surface of the baseplate. For example, the baseplate may be made of a conductive material such as aluminum. The variable electric field produced between the conductive surfaces of the membrane film and the baseplate can create an electrical force of attraction that is approximately proportional to the square of the voltage between the conductive surfaces. Generally, a DC bias voltage (e.g. , a few hundred volts) is applied between the conductive surfaces of the membrane film and the baseplate, onto which an AC voltage or drive signal can be added.

[0004] Prior ultrasonic transducer designs have typically employed a conductive aluminum baseplate and a metalized polymer membrane film. Such a baseplate can include a plurality of depressions (e.g. , a series of grooves) in its surface that partially penetrate the baseplate. The depressions are configured to facilitate vibrational motion of the membrane film. Trapped or restricted air within these depressions can compress and expand as the membrane film moves, and act as an acoustic "spring" or compliance, which provides a restoring force against the membrane film, facilitating vibration. The configuration of the depressions, including their depth, spacing, shape, etc., combined with the material properties of the membrane film can determine the dynamics of the membrane film's vibrational motion. This design concept is employed in what are commonly known as Sell-type ultrasonic transducers, which have long been used in industry.

SUMMARY

[0005] In accordance with the present application, ultrasonic transducers are disclosed that include membrane films and perforated baseplates. In one aspect, an exemplary ultrasonic transducer includes at least one baseplate having a conductive surface with a plurality of apertures, openings, or perforations formed on or through the baseplate. The ultrasonic transducer further includes a membrane film having at least one conductive surface. The membrane film can be positioned adjacent or proximate to the apertures, openings, or perforations formed on or through the baseplate. By applying a voltage between the conductive surface of the membrane film and the conductive surface of the baseplate, an electrical force of attraction can be created between the membrane film and the baseplate. Varying this applied voltage can cause the membrane film to undergo vibrational motion.

[0006] In an exemplary aspect, the size and/or shape of the apertures, openings, or perforations formed on or through the baseplate can determine the frequency response of the ultrasonic transducer. The dimensions corresponding to the size and/or shape of the apertures, openings, or perforations can be varied so that different regions of the baseplate produce different frequency responses of the ultrasonic transducer, allowing the net bandwidth of the ultrasonic transducer to be increased, as desired. The dimensions of the size and/or shape of the apertures, openings, or perforations can be substantially the same, or production processes can be relied upon to provide some small variation(s) in the dimensions of the respective apertures, openings, or perforations. In a further exemplary aspect, the baseplate can have circular, elongated, slotted, square, oval, or any other suitable size, shape, and/or dimensions of the respective apertures, openings, or perforations formed on or through the baseplate. Unlike conventional ultrasonic transducer designs, there is no trapped air in a number of the disclosed ultrasonic transducer configurations, and therefore there is negligible acoustic compliance providing a restoring force to the membrane film. Rather, the bending stiffness of the membrane film provides for a substantial restoring force. When the membrane film is placed in contact with the baseplate, this bending stiffness is particularly well suited to provide a restoring force in the frequency range desired by the disclosed ultrasonic transducers. [0007] Other features, functions, and aspects of the invention will be evident from the

Detailed Description that follows.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0008] The accompanying drawings, which are incorporated in and constitute a part of this specification, illustrate one or more embodiments described herein, and, together with the Detailed Description, explain these embodiments. In the drawings:

[0009] FIG. la is a block diagram of an exemplary parametric audio system, in which an exemplary ultrasonic transducer may be employed, in accordance with the present application;

[0010] FIG. lb is an exploded perspective view of the ultrasonic transducer of FIG. la;

[0011] FIG. 2a is a cross-sectional view of an exemplary embodiment of the ultrasonic transducer of FIGS, la and lb, in which the ultrasonic transducer includes a membrane film and a perforated baseplate;

[0012] FIG. 2b is a cross-sectional view of an alternative embodiment of the ultrasonic transducer of FIG. 2a, in which the perforated baseplate has flared apertures, openings, or perforations formed thereon or therethrough; [0013] FIG. 3 is a cross-sectional view of a further exemplary embodiment of the ultrasonic transducer of FIGS, la and lb, in which the ultrasonic transducer includes a membrane film, a perforated baseplate, and a structure forming a plurality of chambers on a non- radiating side of the perforated baseplate;

[0014] FIG. 4 is a cross-sectional view of another exemplary embodiment of the ultrasonic transducer of FIGS, la and lb, in which the ultrasonic transducer includes a membrane film having a conductive surface, and a perforated baseplate, and the conductive surface of the membrane film is positioned adjacent or proximate to the perforated baseplate;

[0015] FIG. 5a is a cross-sectional view of still another exemplary embodiment of the ultrasonic transducer of FIGS, la and lb, in which the ultrasonic transducer includes a membrane film having two opposing conductive surfaces, and two perforated baseplates, and each conductive surface of the membrane film is positioned adjacent or proximate to a respective one of the perforated baseplates, thereby providing a two-way driving configuration of the ultrasonic transducer;

[0016] FIG. 5b is a cross-sectional view of an alternative embodiment of the ultrasonic transducer of FIG. 5a, in which one side of the two-way driving configuration is made to terminate at one or more chambers in order to provide a one-way output configuration with increased output drive capability; and

[0017] FIG. 6 is a flow diagram of an exemplary method of manufacturing the ultrasonic transducer of FIGS. 2a and 2b. DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0018] Ultrasonic transducers are disclosed that include membrane films and perforated baseplates. An exemplary ultrasonic transducer includes at least one baseplate having a conductive surface with a plurality of apertures, openings, or perforations formed on or through the baseplate. The ultrasonic transducer further includes a membrane film having at least one conductive surface. The membrane film can be positioned adjacent or proximate to the apertures, openings, or perforations formed on or through the baseplate. By applying a voltage between the conductive surface of the membrane film and the conductive surface of the baseplate, an electrical force of attraction can be created between the membrane film and the baseplate. Varying this applied voltage can cause the membrane film to undergo vibrational motion. The dimensions corresponding to the size and/or shape of the apertures, openings, or perforations formed on or through the baseplate can be varied so that different regions of the baseplate produce different frequency responses of the ultrasonic transducer, allowing the net bandwidth of the ultrasonic transducer to be advantageously increased. [0019] FIG. la depicts an illustrative embodiment of an exemplary parametric audio system 100, which includes an exemplary ultrasonic transducer 118, in accordance with the present application. As shown in FIG. la, the parametric audio system 100 can include a signal generator 102, a matching filter 114, driver circuitry 116, and the ultrasonic transducer 118. The signal generator 102 can include a plurality of audio sources 104.1-104. n, a plurality of signal conditioners 106.1-106. n, summing circuitry 108, a modulator 110, and a carrier generator 112. In an exemplary mode of operation, the audio sources 104.1-104.n can generate a plurality of audio signals, respectively. The plurality of signal conditioners 106.1-106. n can receive the plurality of audio signals, respectively, perform signal conditioning on the respective audio signals, and provide the conditioned audio signals to the summing circuitry 108. For example, the plurality of signal conditioners 106.1-106. n may each be configured to include nonlinear inversion circuitry for reducing or substantially eliminating unwanted distortion in any audio that may be reproduced from an output of the parametric audio system 100. The plurality of signal conditioners 106.1-106. n may each further include equalization circuitry, compression circuitry, or any other suitable signal conditioning circuitry. It is noted that such signal conditioning of the plurality of audio signals can alternatively be performed after the audio signals are summed by the summing circuitry 108.

[0020] The summing circuitry 108 can sum the conditioned audio signals, and provide a composite audio signal to the modulator 110. Further, the carrier generator 112 can generate an ultrasonic carrier signal, and provide the ultrasonic carrier signal to the modulator 110. The modulator 110 can then modulate the ultrasonic carrier signal with the composite audio signal. For example, the modulator 110 may be configured to perform amplitude modulation by multiplying the composite audio signal with the ultrasonic carrier signal, or any other suitable form of modulation for converting audio-band signal(s) to ultrasound. Having modulated the ultrasonic carrier signal with the composite audio signal, the modulator 110 can provide the modulated signal to the matching filter 114. For example, the matching filter 114 may be configured to compensate for unwanted distortion resulting from a non-flat frequency response of the driver circuitry 116 and/or the ultrasonic transducer 118.

[0021] The driver circuitry 116 can receive the modulated ultrasonic carrier signal from the matching filter 114, and provide an amplified version of the modulated ultrasonic carrier signal to the ultrasonic transducer 118, which can emit from its output at high intensity the amplified, modulated ultrasonic carrier signal as an ultrasonic beam. For example, the driver circuitry 116 may be configured to include one or more delay circuits (not shown) for applying a relative phase shift across frequencies and multiple output channels of the modulated ultrasonic carrier signal, sent to multiple transducers or transducer elements, in order to steer, focus, and/or shape the ultrasonic beam emitted by the ultrasonic transducer 118. Once emitted from the output of the ultrasonic transducer 118, the ultrasonic beam can be demodulated as it passes through the air or any other suitable propagation medium, due to nonlinear propagation characteristics of the air or other propagation medium. Having demodulated the ultrasonic beam upon its passage through the air or other propagation medium, audible sound can be produced. It is noted that the audible sound produced by way of such a nonlinear parametric process is approximately proportional to the square of the modulation envelope.

[0022] FIG. lb depicts an exploded perspective view of the ultrasonic transducer 118 of

FIG. la. As shown in FIG. lb, the ultrasonic transducer 118 can include an exemplary vibrator layer 120 and an exemplary perforated baseplate 122. The vibrator layer 120 can include a membrane film 130 having a conductive surface 128. The perforated baseplate 122 can include a plurality of apertures, openings, or perforations 132 (e.g. , circular apertures, openings, or perforations) formed thereon or therethrough. For example, the membrane film 130 may be implemented with a thin (e.g. , about 0.2- 100.0 μιη (about 0.008-3.937 mil), typically about 8 μιη (about 0.315 mil), in thickness) polyester, polyimide, polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF), polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) film, or any other suitable polymeric or non-polymeric film. Further, the conductive surface 128 of the membrane film 130 may be implemented with a coating of aluminum, gold, nickel, or any other suitable conductive material. In addition, the perforated baseplate 122 may be made of or coated with aluminum or any other suitable conductive material, and the plurality of apertures, openings, or perforations 132 formed on or through the perforated baseplate 122 may be circular, elongated, slotted, square, oval, or any other suitable shape.

[0023] As shown in FIG. lb, a DC bias voltage source 126 (e.g. , 150 VDC) can be connected across the conductive surface 128 of the membrane film 130 and a conductive surface of the baseplate 122. The DC bias voltage source 126 can increase the sensitivity and output capability of the ultrasonic transducer 118, as well as reduce unwanted distortion in the ultrasonic beam emitted by the ultrasonic transducer 118. In one embodiment, the membrane film 130 may have electret properties, allowing the vibrator layer 120 to function as a DC bias source in place of the DC bias voltage source 126. It is noted that, in FIG. lb, the amplified, modulated ultrasonic carrier signal provided to the ultrasonic transducer 118 by the driver circuitry 116 is represented by a time-varying signal generated by an AC signal source 124, which is connected with the DC bias voltage source 126 such that the voltage delivered to the ultrasonic transducer 118 is the sum of DC and AC components.

[0024] FIG. 2a depicts a partial cross-sectional view (e.g. , partially across a cross-section C-C; see FIG. lb) of an exemplary embodiment 200a (also referred to herein as the ultrasonic transducer 200a) of the ultrasonic transducer 118 of FIGS, la and lb. As shown in FIG. 2a, the ultrasonic transducer 200a can include a membrane film 202a and a perforated baseplate 204a. The perforated baseplate 204a can include a surface 210a with a plurality of apertures, openings, or perforations 212.1-212.2 formed thereon or therethrough. The membrane film 202a can have a conductive surface 206. The non-conductive surface of the membrane film 202a opposite the conductive surface 206 can be placed adjacent to, proximate to, or directly against the surface 210a with the plurality of apertures, openings, or perforations 212.1-212.2 formed in the perforated baseplate 204a. In one embodiment, the perforated baseplate 204a can be made of aluminum or any other suitable conductive material. In an alternative embodiment, the perforated baseplate 204a can be made of an insulating material (e.g. , plastic) that has a conductive surface (e.g. , a coating of conductive material such as aluminum, gold, or nickel). By applying a voltage between the conductive surface 206 of the membrane film 202a and the conductive surface of the perforated baseplate 204a, an electrical force of attraction can be created between the membrane film 202a and the perforated baseplate 204a. Varying this applied voltage can cause the membrane film 202a to undergo vibrational motion.

[0025] It is noted that the membrane film included in each of the ultrasonic transducers disclosed herein, such as the membrane film 202a, can be under tension and have electret properties that provide an effect similar to a level of a DC bias voltage. Such tension on the membrane film 202a can be controlled for the purpose of adjusting the bending stiffness of the membrane film 202a, as well as the restoring force of the membrane film 202a as it undergoes displacement during vibrational motion. Such tension can also be applied to the membrane film 202a by an external fixture (not shown) configured to impart a desired tension force to the membrane film 202a, or by the application of a suitable force between the membrane film 202a and the baseplate 204a. Such tension on the membrane film 202a can be uniform across the surface of the membrane film 202a, or vary according to position on the membrane film surface. Moreover, the direction of the tension force can be directional or omnidirectional.

[0026] Unlike prior ultrasonic transducer designs that typically employ trapped or restricted air as the dominant determining factor of the vibration dynamics of an ultrasonic transducer, the vibration dynamics of the ultrasonic transducer 200a (see FIG. 2a) are chiefly determined by the bending stiffness of the membrane film 202a, and/or the impedance of the apertures, openings, or perforations 212.1-212.2 formed on or through the perforated baseplate 204a. In the case where the non-conductive surface of the membrane film 202a is placed directly against and in contact with the surface 210a of the perforated baseplate 204a (e.g. , directly against and in contact with upper portions of the surface 210a, such as an upper portion 215; see FIG. 2a), the distance from the center of the thickness of the membrane film 202a to the surface of the membrane film 202a in contact with the upper portion 215 is small, and the bending stiffness of the membrane film 202a at the location of contact with the upper portion 215 is high, resulting in a strong and consistent restoring force as the membrane film 202a bends and/or stretches during vibrational motion. In addition, because an electrical force of attraction is known to be inversely proportional to the distance between oppositely-charged electrodes, having the conductive surface 206 of the membrane film 202a (e.g. , corresponding to a positively-charged electrode) and the conductive surface of the baseplate 204a (e.g. ,

corresponding to a negatively-charged electrode) situated as close as possible, such as when the membrane film is in contact with the baseplate, can maximize both the electrical force of attraction and the restoring force, thereby maximizing the output of the ultrasonic transducer 200a. Providing a structural curve or radius near the portions 214 and 215 allows for a very close spacing between the electrodes formed by the conductive surfaces of the baseplate 204a and the membrane film 202a, resulting in a strong driving force while still allowing vibrational motion of the membrane film 202a. [0027] The size and/or shape of the apertures, openings, or perforations 212.1-212.2 can be specified to determine the frequency response of the ultrasonic transducer 200a. The dimensions corresponding to the size and/or shape of the apertures, openings, or perforations 212.1-212.2 can also be varied within one ultrasonic transducer assembly, so that different regions of the perforated baseplate 204a can produce different frequency responses of the ultrasonic transducer 200a, and the net bandwidth of the ultrasonic transducer 200a can be increased, as desired. The dimensions of the size and/or shape of the apertures, openings, or perforations 212.1-212.2 can be substantially the same, or production processes can be relied upon to provide some small variation(s) in the dimensions of the respective apertures, openings, or perforations 212.1-212.2. The apertures, openings, or perforations 212.1-212.2 can be any suitable size, shape, and/or configuration. For example, the apertures, openings, or perforations 212.1-212.2 may be circular, elongated, slotted, square, oval, or any other suitable shape. Such apertures, openings, or perforations formed on or through the perforated baseplate 204a may also be flared like acoustic horns in order to provide increased output levels. FIG. 2b depicts an ultrasonic transducer 200b that includes at least one such flared aperture, opening, or perforation 112.3, which is formed in a surface 210b of a perforated baseplate 204b. The ultrasonic transducer 200b can further include a membrane film 202b, which can be placed adjacent or proximate to the flared apertures, openings, or perforations (e.g. , the flared aperture, opening, or perforation 112.3) formed in the perforated baseplate 204b. [0028] The apertures, openings, or perforations 212.1-212.2 of the perforated baseplate

204a can be formed using any suitable molding, forming, or punching process, resulting in the formation of a plurality of dimples (e.g. , a dimple 213; see FIG. 2a) in the surface 210a of the perforated baseplate 204a. As shown in FIG. 2a, the dimple 213 can have a shallow sloping portion 214 that is essentially tangent to the upper portion 215 (see FIG. 2a) of the surface 210a near the membrane film 202a. For example, each upper portion 215 may correspond to a portion of the surface 210a of the perforated baseplate 204a that was not deformed by the punching process, and may therefore be at least partially flat. The dimple 213 can also have a wall portion 216 with an increased slope. The shallow sloping portion 214 of the dimple 213 can smoothly transition to the wall portion 216 with the increased slope, which terminates at the aperture, opening, or perforation 212.1. The radius of curvature, r (see FIG. 2a), of the dimple 213 can be relatively large, for example, about 203.2 μιη (8 mil), 1270 μιη (50 mil), 2540 μιη (100 mil), 5080 μιη (200 mil), or any other suitable radius of curvature. The punching process used to form the apertures, openings, or perforations 212.1-212.2 can employ standard punches and/or perforating machines, creating the plurality of dimples (e.g. , the dimple 213) on one side of the baseplate 204a as the punches move through the baseplate material. Once the baseplate 204a is cut by the punches, a plurality of metal-edged holes (apertures, openings, perforations) may remain on the opposite side of the perforated baseplate 204a. In one embodiment, the membrane film 202a can be placed directly against the upper portions of the surface 210a (e.g. , the upper portion 215) on the smoother side of the perforated baseplate 204a in order to provide an increased force on the membrane film 202a, as well as provide for an increased ruggedness of the overall ultrasonic transducer design.

[0029] It is noted that the electrical force of attraction created between the membrane film 202a and the perforated baseplate 204a is inversely proportional to the distance between the membrane film 202a and the shallow sloping portion 214 of the dimple 213. Because the distance between the membrane film 202a and the shallow sloping portion 214 is kept small at a location near the upper portion 215, the electrical force of attraction between the membrane film 202a and the perforated baseplate 204a is increased at such locations, and is the source of essentially all of the vibrational motion of the membrane film 202a.

[0030] It is further noted that the ultrasonic transducer 200a (see FIG. 2a) can direct and radiate its output energy from either side (or both sides) of the perforated baseplate 204a, i.e. , from the smoother side of the perforated baseplate 204a with the upper portions of the surface 210a (e.g. , the upper portion 215), or from the opposite side of the perforated baseplate 204a with the plurality of metal-edged holes (e.g. , forming the plurality of apertures, openings, or perforations 212.1, 212.2). The non-radiating side of the perforated baseplate 204a can be left open, or can be made to terminate at one or more chambers (e.g. , one or more chambers 320.1- 320.2; see FIG. 3), which can be either empty or filled with any suitable acoustic absorbing material. Further, one or more acoustic elements can be implemented on the non-radiating side of the perforated baseplate 204a in order to reinforce the output of the ultrasonic transducer 200a. Such chambers (e.g. , the chambers 320.1-320.2; see FIG. 3) can be implemented as trapped air chambers, such as resonant cavities having dimensions that optimally redirect and/or reflect output energy from the non-radiating side of the perforated baseplate 204a back to the radiating side of the perforated baseplate 204a opposite the respective chambers. If the ultrasonic transducer 200a is configured to direct and radiate its output energy from the side of the perforated baseplate 204a with the plurality of metal (or other suitable strong material)-edged holes, then the use of an additional layer (e.g. , a screen) for protecting the relatively fragile membrane film 202a can be avoided, so long as the plurality of apertures, openings, or perforations 212.1, 212.2 are kept small. In such a configuration, the perforated backplate 204a not only imparts force to the membrane film 202a, but also serves to protect the membrane film 202a from damage. Such a configuration can also simplify the assembly of the ultrasonic transducer 200a, as well as reduce its cost.

[0031] FIG. 3 depicts a partial cross-sectional view of a further exemplary embodiment

300 (also referred to herein as the ultrasonic transducer 300) of the ultrasonic transducer 118 of FIGS, la and lb. As shown in FIG. 3, the ultrasonic transducer 300 includes a membrane film 302 and a perforated baseplate 304. The perforated baseplate 304 includes a surface 310 with a plurality of apertures, openings, or perforations 312.1-312.2 formed thereon or therethrough. The membrane film 302 can have a conductive surface 306, and can be placed adjacent or proximate to the apertures, openings, or perforations 312.1-312.2 formed on or through the perforated baseplate 304. By applying a voltage between the conductive surface 306 of the membrane film 302 and a conductive surface of the perforated baseplate 304, an electrical force of attraction can be created between the membrane film 302 and the perforated baseplate 304. Varying this applied voltage can cause the membrane film 302 to undergo vibrational motion.

[0032] The ultrasonic transducer 300 of FIG. 3 can further include a structure 318 that forms the plurality of closed chambers 320.1-320.2 for absorbing, redirecting, and/or reflecting output energy from the non-radiating side of the perforated baseplate 304 back to the radiating side of the perforated baseplate 304 opposite the respective chambers 320.1-320.2. The plurality of chambers 320.1-320.2 can also provide an acoustic compliance to enhance vibration dynamics of the membrane film 302. For example, the structure 318 forming the plurality of chambers 320.1-320.2 may be made from any suitable conductive material, or any suitable non-conductive material, which, for example, may be molded from plastic or any other suitable material.

Further, the plurality of chambers 320.1-320.2 may be configured to be in registration or aligned with the plurality of apertures, openings, or perforations 312.1-312.2, respectively, or a single chamber may be configured to align with several such apertures, openings, or perforations.

[0033] It is noted that the curved structure of the respective chambers 320.1-320.2 (see, e.g. , a curved structural portion 330), as well as the curved structure of the surface 310 of the perforated baseplate 304 (see, e.g. , a curved structural portion 340) can be configured to allow for substantially free movement of the membrane film 302 between the structure 318 and the perforated baseplate 304 while it undergoes vibrational motion. In an alternative embodiment, the perforated baseplate 304 can be made of any suitable non-conductive material (e.g. , plastic), and the structure 318 can be made of any suitable conductive material (e.g. , aluminum), allowing the conductive surface 306 of the membrane film 302 to be placed directly against the perforated baseplate 304. In another embodiment, an ultrasonic transducer 400 (see FIG. 4) can be provided that includes a perforated baseplate 404 made of any suitable conductive material (e.g. , aluminum), and a membrane film 402 having a conductive surface 406, which can be placed directly against the perforated baseplate 404 so long as a thin insulating coating (e.g. , a polymer, oxide) is applied to either the conductive surface 406 of the membrane film 402 or a surface 410 of the perforated baseplate 404 facing and at least partially making contact with the conductive surface 406 of the membrane film 402. Such a thin insulating coating allows the generation of an electrical field, and thus an electrical force, but prevents a short circuit. In an alternative embodiment, the membrane film 402 and the perforated baseplate 404 can be separated from one another by an air gap.

[0034] With regard to the various configurations of the ultrasonic transducers 118 (see

FIGS, la and lb), 200a (see FIG. 2a), 200b (see FIG. 2b), 300 (see FIG. 3), and 400 (see FIG. 4) described herein, the electrical force created from a variable electric field produced by applying a voltage difference (e.g. , an AC voltage) between the membrane film and the perforated baseplate of each ultrasonic transducer is primarily attractive, i.e. , the electrical force operates to move the membrane film in a direction toward the perforated baseplate. Using a DC bias voltage under normal driving conditions, the "pull" of such a force created from the variable electric field can be either increased or decreased, but, typically, the pull of the force does not go negative.

Moreover, the restoring force is mainly derived from the stiffness of the membrane film of the respective ultrasonic transducer. [0035] Based on the various ultrasonic transducer configurations described herein, it is possible to provide a two-way driving configuration of an ultrasonic transducer. A cross- sectional view of such a two-way driving configuration is illustrated in FIG. 5a, which depicts an exemplary ultrasonic transducer 500a that includes a membrane film 502a, a first perforated baseplate 504a, and a second perforated baseplate 514a. As shown in FIG. 5a, the membrane film 502a has conductive surfaces 506.1, 506.2 on its opposing sides. The first perforated baseplate 504a includes a surface 510a with a plurality of apertures, openings, or perforations 512.1, 512.2 formed thereon or therethrough. Likewise, the second perforated baseplate 514a includes a surface 516 with a plurality of apertures, openings, or perforations 518.1, 518.2 formed thereon or therethrough. The conductive surface 506.1 of the membrane film 502a is disposed against the surface 516 of the second perforated baseplate 514a, and the conductive surface 506.2 of the membrane film 502a is disposed against the surface 510a of the first baseplate 504a. The first and second perforated baseplates 504a, 514a can each be made of a conductive material such as aluminum and coated with a thin insulating material (e.g. , a polymer, oxide). By applying a voltage difference (e.g. , an AC voltage) between the conductive surface 506.2 of the membrane film 502a and a conductive surface of the first perforated baseplate 504a, and applying another voltage difference (e.g. , an AC voltage), typically with opposite phase and/or polarity, between the conductive surface 506.1 of the membrane film 502a and a conductive surface of the second perforated baseplate 514a, the membrane film 502a can be made to move alternately in a first direction toward the first perforated baseplate 504a and in a second direction toward the second perforated baseplate 514a. As a result, the output capability of the ultrasonic transducer 500a in the two-way driving configuration can be increased up to at least two times the output capability of conventional ultrasonic transducers in known one-way driving configurations. [0036] While the membrane film 502a of the ultrasonic transducer 500a is disclosed herein as having two conductive surfaces 506.1, 506.2 on its opposing sides, the ultrasonic transducer 500a may alternatively be configured to include a membrane film with a conductive surface on just one of its sides. Such an alternative configuration would avoid the need for an insulating coating on one of the baseplates 504a, 514a. Electrically driving such ultrasonic transducers in the two-way driving configuration can be performed using any suitable combination of AC and DC voltages relative to the conductive surface(s) of the membrane film and the conductive surface(s) of the baseplate(s). Because an electrical force can be generated from voltage differences, each non-moveable conductive surface of a baseplate can have a varying voltage relative to a corresponding conductive surface on a moveable membrane film in order to produce vibrational motion. Such vibrational motion of the membrane film can be increased or magnified by applying a DC bias voltage relative to the respective conductive surfaces of the membrane film and the baseplate. Moreover, the membrane film or an insulating coating on the baseplate(s) can have electret properties, and can be used to replace or augment the applied DC bias voltage. [0037] It is noted that one side of the ultrasonic transducer 500a in the two-way driving configuration can be made to terminate at one or more chambers (e.g. , one or more chambers 520.1, 520.2; see FIG. 5b) in order to provide an ultrasonic transducer 500b (see FIG. 5b) in a one-way output configuration with increased output drive capability. A cross-sectional view of the ultrasonic transducer 500b in the one-way output configuration is illustrated in FIG. 5b, which depicts a membrane film 502b, a perforated baseplate 504b, and a structure 514b that forms the plurality of chambers 520.1-520.2 for absorbing, redirecting, and/or reflecting output energy from a non-radiating side of the ultrasonic transducer 500b to a radiating side of the ultrasonic transducer 500b, or by acting as an acoustic compliance to provide a restoring force. As shown in FIG. 5b, the membrane film 502b has conductive surfaces 506.3, 506.4 on its opposing sides. The perforated baseplate 504b includes a surface 510b with a plurality of apertures, openings, or perforations 512.3, 512.4 formed thereon or therethrough. The conductive surface 506.3 of the membrane film 502b is disposed against the surface of the structure 514b, and the conductive surface 506.4 of the membrane film 502b is disposed against the surface 510b of the baseplate 504b. For example, the structure 514b forming the plurality of chambers 520.1-520.2 may be made from any suitable conductive material, or any suitable non- conductive material, which, for example, may be molded from plastic or any other suitable malleable material. Further, the plurality of chambers 520.1-520.2 may be configured to be in registration or aligned with the plurality of apertures, openings, or perforations 512.3-512.4, respectively. During operation of the ultrasonic transducer 500b, output energy resulting from the membrane film 502b being made to move in a direction toward the structure 514b can be redirected and/or reflected, by action of the plurality of chambers 520.1-520.2, toward the respective apertures, openings, or perforations 512.3, 512.4 in the perforated baseplate 504b, thereby increasing the output drive capability of the ultrasonic transducer 500b beyond what was heretofore achievable in conventional ultrasonic transducers in known one-way driving configurations.

[0038] It is noted that a DC bias voltage can be employed to magnify the electrical force of attraction causing the membrane film 502a to move in the first direction toward the first perforated baseplate 504a, as well as the electrical force of attraction causing the membrane film 502a to move in the second direction toward the second perforated baseplate 514a. Further, the apertures, openings, or perforations 512.1, 512.2, 518.1, 518.2 (see FIG. 5a) can each be circular, elongated, slotted, oval, or any other suitable shape for maximizing the performance of the ultrasonic transducer 500a. In one embodiment, some or all of the apertures, openings, or perforations 512.1, 512.2, 518.1, 518.2 can be flared like acoustic horns. In addition, the thin insulating material coating the respective first and second perforated baseplates 504a, 514a can be implemented as either a thin polymer such as Mylar, urethane, acrylic, or any other suitable polymer, or an oxide such as iron oxide, aluminum oxide, or any other suitable oxide. It is further noted that the ultrasonic transducer designs described herein can be used in parametric array loudspeaker systems or any other suitable systems and/or applications that employ sonic and/or ultrasonic transducers, for transmission and/or reception. Such ultrasonic transducer designs can be segmented for use with a phased array, or multiple discrete elements can be used in one ultrasonic transducer assembly for ruggedness and assembly convenience.

[0039] An exemplary method of manufacturing an ultrasonic transducer that includes a conductive baseplate and a membrane film is described herein with reference to FIG. 6. As depicted in block 602, in a punching process, a plurality of apertures, openings, or perforations are formed on or through the conductive baseplate, causing a plurality of dimples to be formed in the conductive baseplate adjacent to and between at least some of the plurality of apertures, openings, or perforations. As depicted in block 604, a surface of the membrane film is coated with a conductive material. As depicted in block 606, a non-conductive surface of the membrane film opposite the surface coated with the conductive material is placed directly against upper portions of the conductive baseplate adjacent or proximate to the plurality of dimples in order to increase the electrical force of attraction between the membrane film and the conductive baseplate, as well as increase the ruggedness of the ultrasonic transducer. As depicted in block 608, at least some of the plurality of apertures, openings, or perforations are flared like acoustic horns in order to increase an output level of the ultrasonic transducer. [0040] It will be appreciated by those of ordinary skill in the art that modifications to and variations of the above-described ultrasonic transducers may be made without departing from the inventive concepts disclosed herein. Accordingly, the invention should not be viewed as limited except as by the scope and spirit of the appended claims.