A pioneering material which reduces noise while allowing air to flow freely is to undergo trials in hospitals and other noisy locations.

The technology is said to turn plastic sheets into powerful noise-cancelling panels with the same noise-reduction effect of two inches of plywood but weighing four to six times less.

The company behind the Sonoblind panels, Metasonixx, is a spin out from the Universities of Sussex and Bristol. The company, founded by Dr Gianluca Memoli, from the School of Engineering of Informatics of the University of Sussex, and by Prof Bruce Drinkwater of Bristol University, has just been awarded the Armourers & Brasiers Venture Prize. The prize comes with £25,000 investment.

“Our panels are much lighter than traditional solutions for noise abatement and, if required, can even let air and light through,” said Dr Memoli. “Some of the panels can be used as grilles to silence air conditioning units and extractor fans or as part of blinds, to keep the noise out while the window stays open.

“We intend to use the Venture Prize money to manufacture panels, to be used in trials in hospitals and offices across the UK. Our designs take inspiration from devices that shape light – like lenses, holograms and LCD displays. Metasonixx’s technology, based on acoustic metamaterials, can be the ultimate defence against noise at home or in open offices.”