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Proceedings Paper

Characterization of real objects by an active electrolocation sensor
Author(s): Michael G. Metzen; Imène Al Ghouz; Sandra Krueger; Herbert Bousack; Gerhard von der Emde
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Paper Abstract

Weakly electric fish use a process called 'active electrolocation' to orientate in their environment and to localize objects based on their electrical properties. To do so, the fish discharge an electric organ which emits brief electrical current pulses (electric organ discharge, EOD) and in return sense the generated electric field which builds up surrounding the animal. Caused by the electrical properties of nearby objects, fish measure characteristic signal modulations with an array of electroreceptors in their skin. The fish are able to gain important information about the geometrical properties of an object as well as its complex impedance and its distance. Thus, active electrolocation is an interesting feature to be used in biomimetic approaches. We used this sensory principle to identify different insertions in the walls of Plexiglas tubes. The insertions tested were composed of aluminum, brass and graphite in sizes between 3 and 20 mm. A carrier signal was emitted and perceived with the poles of a commercial catheter for medical diagnostics. Measurements were performed with the poles separated by 6.3 to 55.3 mm. Depending on the length of the insertion in relation to the sender-receiver distance, we observed up to three peaks in the measured electric images. The first peak was affected by the material of the insertion, while the distance between the second and third peak strongly correlated with the length of the insertion. In a second experiment we tested whether various materials could be detected by using signals of different frequency compositions. Based on their electric images we were able to discriminate between objects having different resistive properties, but not between objects of complex impedances.

Paper Details

Date Published: 4 April 2012
PDF: 12 pages
Proc. SPIE 8339, Bioinspiration, Biomimetics, and Bioreplication 2012, 833910 (4 April 2012); doi: 10.1117/12.914049
Show Author Affiliations
Michael G. Metzen, Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Univ. Bonn (Germany)
McGill Univ. (Canada)
Imène Al Ghouz, Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Univ. Bonn (Germany)
Sandra Krueger, Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Univ. Bonn (Germany)
Herbert Bousack, Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH (Germany)
Gerhard von der Emde, Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Univ. Bonn (Germany)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 8339:
Bioinspiration, Biomimetics, and Bioreplication 2012
Akhlesh Lakhtakia, Editor(s)

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