A new type of speaker made out of a thin, clear gel could point the way for TVs to come with sound systems built right onto the screen.

Developed at Harvard University, the 'Ionic' speaker is made of a sheet of rubber inserted between layers of gel. Using a high-voltage signal sent across the gel, the layers force the rubber to vibrate - thus creating sound.

The speakers are able to made noise which runs across the entire audible spectrum, from 20 hertz to 20 kilohertz. As well as speakers it is possible the film could be used to make noise-cancelling windows which actively prevent noise transmitting across the surface of the glass.

In a press release, the team claim their invention is a world first:

"It represents the first demonstration that electrical charges carried by ions, rather than electrons, can be put to meaningful use in fast-moving, high-voltage devices."

"The big vision is soft machines," says co-lead author Christoph Keplinger, who worked on the project as a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard SEAS and in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, in a press release.

"Engineered ionic systems can achieve a lot of functions that our body has: they can sense, they can conduct a signal, and they can actuate movement. We're really approaching the type of soft machine that biology has to offer."

Take a look at how it works, above. There are more details over at Phys.org and New Scientist.

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