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A volumetric array of laser-induced air breakdown sparks is used to produce a directional and steerable acoustic source. The laser breakdown array element is broadband, point-like, and massless. It produces an impulse-like waveform in midair, thus generating accurate spatio-temporal information for acoustic beamforming. A laser-spark scanning setup and the concept of a massless steerable source are presented and evaluated with a cubic array by using an off-line far field delay-and-sum beamforming method. This virtual acoustic array with minimal source influence can, for instance, produce narrow transmission beams to obtain localized and directional impulse response information by reflection tracking.


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