Most naturally occurring materials have a disordered atomic structure that interferes with the propagation of both sound and electromagnetic waves. When the waves come into contact with these materials, they bounce around and disperse – and their energy dissipates according to a highly complex interference pattern, diminishing in intensity. That means it’s virtually impossible to transmit data or energy intact across wave-scattering media and fully leverage the potential of wave technology.
For an example, you need look no further than your smartphone – the geolocation function works less well inside buildings where radiofrequency waves scatter in all directions. Other potential applications include biomedical imaging and geological surveying, where it’s important to be able to send waves across highly disordered media.