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Proceedings Paper

Inspection and analysis of the walls of fluid filled tubes by active electrolocation: a biomimetic approach
Author(s): Martin Gottwald; Kavita Mayekar; Vladislav Reiswich; Herbert Bousack; Deepak Damalla; Shubham Biswas; Michael G. Metzen; Gerhard von der Emde
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Paper Abstract

During their nocturnal activity period, weakly electric fish employ a process called "active electrolocation" for navigation and object detection. They discharge an electric organ in their tail, which emits electrical current pulses, called electric organ discharges (EOD). Local EODs are sensed by arrays of electroreceptors in the fish's skin, which respond to modulations of the signal caused by nearby objects. Fish thus gain information about the size, shape, complex impedance and distance of objects. Inspired by these remarkable capabilities, we have designed technical sensor systems which employ active electrolocation to detect and analyse the walls of small, fluid filled pipes. Our sensor systems emit pulsed electrical signals into the conducting medium and simultaneously sense local current densities with an array of electrodes. Sensors can be designed which (i) analyse the tube wall, (ii) detect and localize material faults, (iii) identify wall inclusions or objects blocking the tube (iv) and find leakages. Here, we present first experiments and FEM simulations on the optimal sensor arrangement for different types of sensor systems and different types of tubes. In addition, different methods for sensor read-out and signal processing are compared. Our biomimetic sensor systems promise to be relatively insensitive to environmental disturbances such as heat, pressure, turbidity or muddiness. They could be used in a wide range of tubes and pipes including water pipes, hydraulic systems, and biological systems. Medical applications include catheter based sensors which inspect blood vessels, urethras and similar ducts in the human body.

Paper Details

Date Published: 23 March 2011
PDF: 15 pages
Proc. SPIE 7975, Bioinspiration, Biomimetics, and Bioreplication, 797510 (23 March 2011); doi: 10.1117/12.877763
Show Author Affiliations
Martin Gottwald, Univ. Bonn (Germany)
Kavita Mayekar, Univ. Bonn (Germany)
Vladislav Reiswich, Univ. Bonn (Germany)
Herbert Bousack, Forschungszentrum Jülich (Germany)
Deepak Damalla, Forschungszentrum Jülich (Germany)
Shubham Biswas, Forschungszentrum Jülich (Germany)
Michael G. Metzen, Univ. Bonn (Germany)
Gerhard von der Emde, Univ. Bonn (Germany)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 7975:
Bioinspiration, Biomimetics, and Bioreplication
Raúl J. Martín-Palma; Akhlesh Lakhtakia, Editor(s)

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