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UK based researchers from the University of Strathclyde have managed to create tiny microphones that can autonomously collect sound with little power consumption.
By utilizing 3D printing technology and his own knowledge regarding the hearing systems of insects, Andrew Reid and his team of researchers were able to fabricate custom materials that mimic insect membranes. These synthetic membranes are highly sensitive and efficient acoustic sensors.
“Insect ears are ideal templates for lowering energy and data transmission costs, reducing the size of the sensors, and removing data processing,” said Reid.
“In images, our microphone looks like any other microphone. The mechanical element is a simple diaphragm, perhaps in a slightly unusual ellipsoid or rectangular shape,” Reid said. “The interesting bits are happening on the microscale, with small variations in thickness and porosity, and on the nanoscale, with variations in material properties such as the compliance and density of the material.”
More than just the material, the entire data collection process is inspired by biological systems. Unlike traditional microphones that collect a range of information, these microphones are designed to detect a specific signal. This streamlined process is similar to how nerve endings detect and transmit signals. The specialization of the sensor enables it to quickly discern triggers without consuming a lot of energy or requiring supervision.
The bio-inspired sensors, with their small size, autonomous function, and low energy consumption, are ideal for applications that are hazardous or hard to reach, including locations embedded in a structure or within the human body. Maybe even as part of a spy’s toolkit.
As reported by techxplore.com.