A thermal-to-acoustic energy converter (TAC) was developed and tested to produce sound waves in the kilohertz range directly from solar energy. The converter consisted of a glass window and a small amount of steel wool in the shape of a disk sealed in an aluminum housing. A Fresnel lens and a chopper wheel with 60 holes in it were employed to generate a pulsed sunbeam of approximately 200 sun intensity as the heat source of the TAC. Various designs and techniques were tested to improve the sound amplitude and signal-to-noise ratio of the converter at high frequencies. Reduction in air volume, better cooling, and improvement in air tightness were found to be effective in enhancing the sound amplitude. A shockproof mount commonly used in radio studios to reduce microphone vibration was essential in noise reduction for the TAC at high chopper wheel rotations. The sound amplitude was found to rapidly decrease with the increase in pulse frequency of the sunbeam at low frequencies. The relationship between the decibel value and frequency of the generated sound waves was changed to linear for sunbeam frequencies above 1 kHz. This is the frequency at which the penetration of surface temperature fluctuations into the aluminum housing becomes comparable with the aluminum housing thickness. At a given frequency, the sound amplitude increased almost exponentially with the increase in solar flux intensity. To the best of our knowledge, the 3 kHz sound frequency measured in our experiments is by far the highest frequency produced by a solar-to-acoustical energy converter.

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