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# Acoustic wave equation

In physics, the acoustic wave equation governs the propagation of acoustic waves through a material medium. The form of the
equation is a second order partial differential equation. The equation describes the evolution of acoustic pressure or particle
velocity u as a function of position x and time . A simplified form of the equation describes acoustic waves in only one spatial
dimension, while a more general form describes waves in three dimensions.

For lossy media, more intricate models need to be applied in order to take into account frequency-dependent attenuation and phase
speed. Such models include acoustic wave equations that incorporate fractional derivative terms, see also the acoustic attenuation
article or the survey paper.

Contents
In one dimension
Equation
Solution
Derivation
In three dimensions
Equation
Solution
Cartesian coordinates
Cylindrical coordinates
Spherical coordinates

See also
References

In one dimension

Equation
The wave equation describing sound in one dimension (position ) is

where is the acoustic pressure (the local deviation from the ambient pressure), and where is the speed of sound.

Solution
Provided that the speed is a constant, not dependent on frequency (the dispersionless case), then the most general solution is
where and are any two twice-differentiable functions. This may be pictured as the superposition of two waveforms of arbitrary
profile, one ( ) travelling up the x-axis and the other ( ) down the x-axis at the speed . The particular case of a sinusoidal wave
travelling in one direction is obtained by choosing either or to be a sinusoid, and the other to be zero, giving

where is the angular frequency of the wave and is its wave number.

Derivation
The wave equation can be developed from the
linearized one-dimensional continuity equation,
the linearized one-dimensional force equation and
the equation of state.

## In an adiabatic process, pressure P as a function

of density can be linearized to

## where C is some constant. Breaking the pressure

and density into their mean and total components Derivation of the acoustic wave equation
and noting that :

## which gives the result

Condensation, s, is defined as the change in density for a given ambient fluid density
.

## The continuity equation (conservation of mass) in one dimension is

.

Where u is the flow velocity of the fluid. Again the equation must be linearized and the variables split into mean and variable
components.

Rearranging and noting that ambient density changes with neither time nor position and that the condensation multiplied by the
velocity is a very small number:

Euler's Force equation (conservation of momentum) is the last needed component. In one dimension the equation is:

where represents the convective, substantial or material derivative, which is the derivative at a point moving with medium
rather than at a fixed point.

## Linearizing the variables:

Rearranging and neglecting small terms, the resultant equation becomes the linearized one-dimensional Euler Equation:

Taking the time derivative of the continuity equation and the spatial derivative of the force equatio
n results in:

Multiplying the first by , subtracting the two, and substituting the linearized equation of state,

## The final result is

where is the speed of propagation.

In three dimensions

Equation
Feynman provides a derivation of the wave equation for sound in three dimensions as

where is the Laplace operator, is the acoustic pressure (the local deviation from the ambient pressure), and where is the speed
of sound.

A similar looking wave equation but for thevector field particle velocity is given by

In some situations, it is more convenient to solve the wave equation for an abstract scalar field
velocity potential which has the form

and then derive the physical quantities particle velocity and acoustic pressure by the equations (or definition, in the case of particle
velocity):

Solution
The following solutions are obtained byseparation of variablesin different coordinate systems. They arephasor solutions, that is they
have an implicit time-dependence factor of where is the angular frequency. The explicit time dependence is given by

## Here is the wave number.

Cartesian coordinates

Cylindrical coordinates

.
where the asymptotic approximations to theHankel functions, when , are

Spherical coordinates

Depending on the chosen Fourier convention, one of these represents an outward travelling wave and the other an nonphysical inward
travelling wave. The inward travelling solution wave is only nonphysical because of the singularity that occurs at r=0; inward
travelling waves do exist.

See also
Acoustics
Acoustic attenuation
Acoustic theory
Wave Equation
Differential Equations
Thermodynamics
Fluid Dynamics
Pressure
Ideal Gas Law

References
1. S. P. Näsholm and S. Holm, "On a Fractional Zener Elastic W
ave Equation," Fract. Calc. Appl. Anal. Vol. 16, No 1
(2013), pp. 26-50, DOI: 10.2478/s13540-013--0003-1Link to e-print (http://arxiv.org/abs/1212.4024)
2. Richard Feynman, Lectures in Physics, Volume 1, Chapter 47: Sound. The wave equation(http://feynmanlectures.ca
ltech.edu/I_47.html), Caltech 1963, 2006, 2013
3. Richard Feynman, Lectures in Physics, Volume 1, 1969, Addison Publishing Company, Addison

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## This page was last edited on 20 December 2017, at 16:00.

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