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.

silhouettes of a group of people with backdrop of equations

Joining an IOP special interest group

For non-IOP members: Become a member now

For IOP members: Find out how to join a group

Group physics prize

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.

Find out more about the Bob Chivers Prize in Physical Acoustics.

Physics resources 

Presentations from the 2017 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 

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

Reports from Anglo-French Physical Acoustics Conferences  

2018 (PDF, 693KB)
2017 (PDF, 10KB)
2016 (PDF, 196KB)
2014 (PDF, 70KB)
2011 (PDF, 70KB)

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

Group events

Find group events on the IOP events site.

We organise two main events per year: 

  • Annual Tutorial Day
  • 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 conferences@iop.org 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.

Committee and contacts