Optical EngineeringHair sensor using a photoelectronic principle for sensing airflow and its direction
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Many organisms have diverse hair cells to instantaneously perceive the change of surroundings so that they can keep away from threats. These organs can precisely detect the tiny variations of airflow, water flow, sound, or pressure, and also resolve their affecting directions. Through this brilliant inspiration by the insects' cilia, we decided to design and develop a hair sensor for detecting two-dimensional airflow and pressure waves by using photoelectronic principles. The hair sensor inherently consists of an artificial cilium supported by an elastic membrane. A light-emitting diode and a quadrant photodiode are used as the photoelectronic sensor. The airflow or pressure wave directly stimulates the cilium to sway, and this motion contributes to let the projected light beam shift over the quadrant photodiode, whose four photodiodes produce then corresponding output signals. Because of dynamic and high-sensitive properties of the photoelectronic sensor, the hair sensor we developed possesses a high measurement resolution to be able to detect very tiny stimulation and its affecting direction. According to its multifaceted characteristics and simple structure, the hair sensor can be applied in numerous potential application fields, such as intrusion alarm system, noise detection system, as well as a tactile sensor.