Physical Acoustics Group

This is an IOP special interest group, which is a community of IOP members focused on a particular discipline, application or area of interest. Special interest groups allow members to connect and share knowledge and ideas. The IOP funds groups to deliver a range of activities including events, prizes and bursaries. All of our groups are driven by members.

About the group

As a special interest, member-driven group, we are interested in physical acoustics and ultrasonics.

Fundamental aspects of acoustic wave propagation and the interaction of acoustic waves with matter are important in fields as diverse as phonon physics and seismology. 

Ultrasonic wave generation, propagation and attenuation provide compositional and structural information in:

  • gases
  • liquids
  • solids

There is increasing interest in ultrasonic wave scattering in inhomogeneous materials varying from sea-bed sediments, modern (composite) materials, through to foodstuffs and biological tissues. This provides the basic physics of ultrasonic testing and imaging. 

We are also interested in wave propagation in complex media in biomedical ultrasound for applications like focused ultrasound surgery and drug delivery, where nonlinear effects can be important. 

Other imaging, monitoring and inspection techniques include:

  • photo-acoustics
  • acoustic emission
  • acoustical microscopy

Crucial to the exploitation of these methods in a quantitative scientific manner is the successful development of devices which generate and detect acoustic waves. 

Equally important is the successful implementation of validated computational models to describe physical acoustics phenomena. High-performance computing platforms are increasingly being used to solve large scale 3D problems.

What the group does

We promote physical acoustics and ultrasonics and their contribution to fundamental science and its applications.

Would you like to join this group?

Group physics prizes and competitions

Bob Chivers Prize in Physical Acoustics

This annual prize promotes research in physical acoustics by recognising the best paper by a PhD student at a UK university.

The prize is £250 and a certificate.

The research on physical acoustics can include but is not limited to:

  • sonar
  • ultrasonics
  • seismic waves
  • room acoustics
  • non-destructive testing

The next prize will be awarded at the Anglo French Physical Acoustics Conference 2019.

To be considered papers must have:

  • been accepted for publication
  • first appeared in the public domain between 1 April 2016 and 31 March 2018

Email nominations and enquiries to:

Download a poster on the Bob Chivers Prize in Physical Acoustics.



Luke Cox

Acoustic Lock: Position and orientation trapping of non-spherical sub-wavelength particles in mid-air using a single-axis acoustic levitator.


Michael Brown

Design of multi-frequency acoustic kinoforms.


Dr Asier Marzo et al

For research on holographic acoustic elements for manipulation of levitated objects. 


Anton van Pamel

For research on finite element modelling of elastic wave scattering in a polycrystalline material in 2D and 3D.


Bo Lan for research on experimental and computational studies of ultrasound wave propagation in hexagonal close-packed polycrystals for texture detection.


Gim Hwa Chua

For research on the use of clicks resembling those of the Atlantic bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) to improve target discrimination in bubbly water with biased pulse summation sonar.


Dr Xiaoyu Xi

For research on collective bubble dynamics near a surface in a weak acoustic standing wave field.


Dr Pierre Gelat

For modelling of the acoustic field of a multi-element HIFU array scattered by human ribs.


Dr David (Zheng) Fan

For research on elastic waves guided by a welded joint in a plate.


Dr Marco Morbidini

For research on prediction of the thermosonic signal from fatigue cracks in metals using vibration damping measurements.


Dr Christopher Lowis

For determining the strength of rotating broadband sources in ducts by inverse methods.

Physics resources 

Presentations from the 2017 the Tutorial Day on Physical Acoustics of Inhomogenous Media

Multiscale Acoustics of Granualar Media: from probing to pumping, Prof Xiaoping Jia, Institut Langevin, ESPCI Paris, France (PDF, 5.17 MB)

Download Ultrasonic Spectroscopy for Particle Sizing and Characterisation of Liquid Based Systems, Dr Melvin Holmes, University of Leeds, UK (PPT 6.9 MB)

Reports from Anglo-French Physical Acoustics Conferences  

2018 (PDF, 693KB)
2017 (PDF, 9.2KB)
2016 (PDF, 196KB)
2014 (PDF, 70KB)
2011 (PDF, 70KB)

Find papers from our Anglo-French Physical Acoustics Conferences on Researchgate .

Annual conference and physics events

We organise two main events per year: 

  1. Annual Tutorial Day
  2. Anglo-French Physical Acoustics Conference (AFPAC)

The Annual Tutorial Day

This is an informal forum to review developments in physical acoustics and ultrasonics in the UK and France. Experts give tutorials on the latest research tools and the basic science of acoustics for research students and more experienced researchers. 

Anglo-French Physical Acoustics Conference

The scope of the conference is intentionally wide to encourage cross-fertilisation of ideas across different areas in physical acoustics. Previous presentations covered: 

  • theoretical developments (all methods)
  • experimental measurements
  • transduction
  • linear or nonlinear elastic or acoustic (bulk, surface, guided) wave radiation, propagation and scattering
  • application to material characterisation
  • imaging (non-destructive testing, medical, underwater, seismology)
  • ultrasound therapy
  • surface acoustic wave devices

Email for updates on the next Anglo-French Physical Acoustics Conference. 

We also organise or co-sponsor meetings on subjects that have included:

  • ultrasonic studies of bone
  • acoustic microscopy
  • acoustic trapping of nanoparticles
  • the contactless generation and detection of ultrasound

We focus on discussions between theoreticians and experimentalists from a wide range of institutions with a particular interest in improving the scientific basis of technological developments.

Group events

Find group events on our events portal.

Committee and contacts

Cookie Settings