Fraunhofer subsidy Arioso Systems develops Silicon micro loudspeaker

Silicon Speakers


Arioso Systems, a spin-off company of the Fraunhofer Institute, is developing a micro in-ear loudspeaker made from 100% silicon based on Fraunhofer’s Nanoscopic Electrostatic Drive (NED) technology.

The silicon-based transducer does not use a conventional membrane, instead being installed inside the body of a silicon chip as a series of bending strips. These electrostatic actuators called Nano E-Drives are integrated inside the just 20 µm wide bending strips, which are energized by vibrations from the audio signal voltage. These vibrations are heard as sound. As these components can be directly integrated into the silicon chip, they take up less space and are significantly more energy-efficient than conventional loudspeakers.

NED Micro Speaker
In the Nanoscopic Electrostatic Drive (NED) design, the conventional membrane is replaced by dozens of moving beams located in the interior of a chip. The sound generating beams consist of three electrodes. Between these electrodes an electrostatic field causes a force along each beam and an in-plane deflection.

According to Jan Blochwitz-Nimoth, managing director, Arioso Systems “Today’s speakers are roughly 10 millimetres in diameter and four to five millimetres thick. The volume that is covers inside this tiny device is very high and we aim to have it  go down to below fifty cubic millimetres. It’s a very small chip and we save a lot of space and we save a lot of weight, allowing this extra space and weight availability to be used for batteries.”

“Intrinsically, audio quality should be excellent; electrostatic loudspeakers are considered the ‘holy grail’ of loudspeakers and while electrostatic speakers can be expensive, from a high-fidelity standpoint they are exceptional. With our Chip based ideas we make this electrostatic approach feasible for In-Ear-Headphones and Hearable both technologically and price-wise.” – Blochwitz-Nimoth