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Bioinspiration From Biodiversity in Sensor Design

[+] Author Affiliations
Rolf Müller

Virginia Tech, Danville, VA

Jianguo Ma, Zhen Yan

Shandong University, Jinan, Shandong, China

Cindy Grimm

Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, MO

Washington Mio

Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL

Paper No. IMECE2011-64487, pp. 825-834; 10 pages
  • ASME 2011 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition
  • Volume 2: Biomedical and Biotechnology Engineering; Nanoengineering for Medicine and Biology
  • Denver, Colorado, USA, November 11–17, 2011
  • Conference Sponsors: ASME
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-5488-4
  • Copyright © 2011 by ASME


Biodiversity is a notable outcome of biological evolution. In the process of adaptive radiation, functional principles of sensing in biology have been adapted to suit different tasks and constraints. The biosonar system of bats is an example of such an adaptive radiation in sensing that also offers particularly advantageous conditions for a biodiversity-level analysis of adaptation principles with potential engineering relevance. The beam-forming capabilities of bat biosonar are tied to the geometries of external baffle structures, i.e., the outer ears used for reception and the noseleaves used to shape the emitted biosonar pulses. Since the geometries of these baffles determine their functions, which in turn can also be expressed by a shape (the beampattern), biosonar beamforming can be described by two interrelated shape spaces, one for biological form and the other for biological function. A shape space representation for the outer ears can be obtained by a cylindrical transform of the ear surfaces followed by principal component analysis. The results of this analysis are in a form that is suitable to inform the design of technical baffle shapes. However, additional analysis methods need to be developed for noseleaves, beampatterns, as well as the link between form and function.

Copyright © 2011 by ASME
Topics: Sensors , Design , Biomimetics



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