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Proceedings Paper

A bio-inspired aquatic flow sensor using an artificial cell membrane
Author(s): Preston A. Pinto; Kevin Garrison; Donald J. Leo; Stephen A. Sarles
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Paper Abstract

Receptors known as hair cells give many animals this ability to sense a wide range of stimuli, such as sound, orientation, vibration, and flow. Previous researchers have mimicked natural hair cells by building electromechanical sensor systems that produce an electric response due to the bending of artificial hairs. Inspired by the roles of sensory hairs in fish, this work builds on previous research by investigating the flow dependent electrical response of a 'skin'-encapsulated artificial hair cell in an aqueous flow. This study presents the design, fabrication, and characterization of a flow sensor that will help close the loop between the sensing mechanisms and control strategies that aquatic organisms employ for functions such as locomotion regulation, prey capture, and particulate capture. The system is fabricated with a durable, artificial bilayer that forms at the interface between lipid-encased aqueous volumes contained in a flexible encapsulated polyurethane substrate. Flow experiments are conducted by placing the bio-inspired sensor in a flow chamber and subjecting it to pulse-like flows. Specifically, through temporal responses of the measured current and power spectral density (PSD) analysis, our results show that the amplitude and frequency of the current response are related to the flow over the hair. This preliminary study demonstrates that the encapsulated artificial hair cell flow sensor is capable of sensing changes in flow through a mechanoelectrical response and that its sensing capabilities may be altered by varying its surface morphology.

Paper Details

Date Published: 4 April 2012
PDF: 10 pages
Proc. SPIE 8339, Bioinspiration, Biomimetics, and Bioreplication 2012, 833907 (4 April 2012); doi: 10.1117/12.915198
Show Author Affiliations
Preston A. Pinto, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State Univ. (United States)
Kevin Garrison, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State Univ. (United States)
Donald J. Leo, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State Univ. (United States)
Stephen A. Sarles, The Univ. of Tennessee (United States)


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

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