Bio-inspired acoustic sensors based on artificial stereocilia


Noca F., Hoenk M., Hunt B., Koumoutsakos P., Walther J.H., Werder T., Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 108, 5, 2494-678, 2000



A unique, biologically inspired acoustic transducer based on artificial stereocilia is being developed. This transducer will enable directional sensitivity and miniaturization of acoustic sensors while enhancing sensitivity, ultimately leading to revolutionary ad- vances in acoustic detection and signal processing. The similarities between natural stereocilia and the proposed transducer array could allow for the first time the fabrication of an artificial cochlea that relies on biologically inspired signal-processing techniques. Other applications, such as measuring sounds generated by moving micro-organisms and nanoscale biological events (metabolic flows), may be enabled by this novel transducer. Finally, artificial stereocilia (functioning as actuators instead of sensors, analogous to stridulatory pegs in insects) will be capable of generating acoustic signals for applications in active acoustic instruments such as sonar. Before these advantages can be realized, fundamental developments are required in the design and fabrication of a transducer based on artificial stereocilia arrays. The potentially revolutionary nature of this transducer is being demonstrated by fabricating and characterizing acoustic sensors based on recently produced carbon nanotube arrays.