I was doing a research for my PhD on Mechanical Microsensors, realized using Micro fabrication technology, or what is commonly now called as Microelectromechanicals System (MEMS) technology. But, the research approach I have been undertaking now is unique. Instead of departing from the problem, we departed from the solutions. We take some examples of biological sensors in the physical domain, and take inspirations from them, to build novel sensors to solve contemporary sensing problems.
The following is the summary of my PhD research, which I also put on my thesis.
Summary – Learning from Nature: Biologically-inspired Sensors
Dedy H.B. Wicaksono
New emerging sensing applications demand novel sensors in micro-/nano-scale to enable integration and embedding into higher level structures or systems. Downsizing the structure will usually decrease the sensitivity of the sensors, since the sensitivity is a function of geometrical parameters, e.g. mass in the case of inertial sensing, and absorbing surface area in the case of an infrared sensor. To maintain a detectable readout signal for the processing electronics, new transducing mechanisms have to be devised for micro- and nano-scale sensors. Nature, especially from insects of the animal kingdom, can provide an inspiration source for the development of such novel miniaturised sensors.
This thesis describes the design, analysis through simulation, fabrication, and characterisation of several examples of novel sensors inspired from natural physical sensors found in insects. The thesis serves two purposes, first, to elucidate the working mechanisms of several natural biological sensors by a combination of synthesis and analysis, and second, to implement similar working mechanisms in artificial engineering material and structure for novel sensors development. Three development cases will be presented: biomimetic strain sensor inspired from the campaniform sensillum of insects, biomimetic gyroscope inspired from the haltere of the fly, and biomimetc far infrared sensor inspired from the beetle’s infrared device.
The field of applications of new transduction mechanisms inspired from biological sensors to novel ultraminiaturised sensors is very wide. Ultraminiaturised strain sensors that can be integrated into mechanical structures could provide smart structures for buildings, cars, airplanes, and robots. Novel ultraminiaturised gyroscopes could find their application in hand-held devices for personal navigation, as well as for man-machine interface. Novel ultraminiaturised infrared sensor which can be fabricated using standard CMOS technology could find its application in civilian night vision application, such as pedestrian detection in cars, and civilian security night surveillance camera.