Structural acoustics is the study of the mechanical waves in structures and how they interact with and radiate into adjacent fluids. The field of structural acoustics is often referred to as vibroacoustics in Europe and Asia. People that work in the field of structural acoustics are known as structural acousticians. The field of structural acoustics can be closely related to a number of other fields of acoustics including noise, transduction, underwater acoustics, and physical acoustics.
 Compressional and Shear Waves (isotropic, homogeneous material)
Compressional waves (often referred to as longitudinal waves) expand and contract in the same direction (or opposite) as the wave motion. The wave equation dictates the motion of the wave in the x direction.
where is the deformation is the wave speed. This has the same form as the acoustic wave equation in one-dimension. is determined by properties (bulk modulus and density ) of the structure according to
When two dimensions of the structure are small with respect to wavelength (commonly called a beam), the wave speed is dictated by Youngs modulus instead of the and are consequently slower than in infinite media.
Shear waves occur due to the shear stiffness and follows a similar equation, but with the shear deformation occurring in the transverse direction, perpendicular to the wave motion.
The shear wave speed is governed by the shear modulus which is less than and , making shear waves slower than longitudinal waves.
 Bending Waves in beams and plates
Most sound radiation is caused by bending (or flexural) waves, which deform the structure transversely as they propagate. Bending waves are more complicated than compressional or shear waves and depend on material properties as well as geometric properties. They are also dispersive since different frequencies travel as different speeds. For a thin beam then bending wave speed is defined as
and the wave equation is fourth order in space. For a thin plate the bending wave speed is
 Modeling Vibrations
Finite element analysis can be used to predict the vibration of complex structures. A finite element compute program will assemble the mass, stiffness, and damping matrices based on the element geometries and material properties, and solve for the vibration response based on the loads applied.
 Fluid-structure Interaction
When a vibrating structure is in contact with a fluid, the normal particle velocities at the interface must be conserved (i.e. be equivalent). This causes some of the energy from the structure to escape into the fluid, some of which radiates away as sound, some of which stays near the structure and does not radiate away.
 Piston Radiation
A piston oscillating uniformly in a rigid baffle is the classic example to consider acoustic radiation. For a circular piston that has time harmonic motion, the pressure far away from the piston is found to be
where is the piston velocity (assumed constant over the surface) and is the first order Bessel function. This is derived by integrating the far-field pressure contributions of tiny point sources over the area of the piston. The radiated sound power is related directly to the radiation resistance of the fluid and is calculated as
where is the spatially and time averaged velocity.
 Structural Wave Radiation
Since most structures do not vibrate uniformly (as in the case of the baffled piston), but vibrate according as combinations of flexural, compressional and shear waves. The radiation characteristics actually depend strongly on whether the bending wave speed is slower than the sound speed in the fluid or faster. For subsonic bending waves, the radiation is weak, while supersonic bending waves radiate efficiently.
 See also
- Stephen A. Hambric, Applied Research Lab at The Pennsylvania State University, STRUCTURAL ACOUSTICS TUTORIAL I, VIBRATION IN STRUCTURES, retrieved 2010-08-09
- Stephen A. Hambric and John B. Fahnline, Applied Research Lab at The Pennsylvania State University, STRUCTURAL ACOUSTICS TUTORIAL II, SOUND—STRUCTURE INTERACTION, retrieved 2010-08-09