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Biomimetic Nanoscience Inspired by Elephants and Bees: Water Detection with MEMS Oliver Futterknecht1, Mark O. Macqueen2, Salmah b. Karman3,4, S. Zaleha M. Diah3 and Ille C. Gebeshuber1,3 1Institute

of Applied Physics, Vienna University of Technology, 1040 Wien, Austria, Europe Technologies, 14 Jalan BK 5D/1C, Bandar Kinrara, 47180 Puchong, Malaysia 3Institute of Microengineering and Nanoelectronics, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, 43600 UKM Bangi, Malaysia 4Dept. of Biomedical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, University of Malaya, 50603 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 2Aramis

How to Find Water?

Honeybee Polarization Vision Honeybees detect polarized skylight with nanoscale sensors in their compound eyes for navigation (the polarization pattern of the sky changes throughout the day) and water detection.

Lake Crescent, Gobi Desert

Learn from animal senses and sensors Input: Compound Eye Dorsal Rim Area

Bio-inspired water detection with MEMS

Biomimetics: Knowledge transfer from biology to engineering, resulting in novel innovative technologies

Bioinspired Water Detection with MEMS Elephants locate underground rivers 14.3 km away and 3 m underground (with nanoscale infrasound sensors)

Output: Navigation Water Detection

Bees sense slight changes in polarization induced by water vapor

Bioinspired MEMS water detector for desert survival

MEMS Device Concept 1.  The MEMS sensor array is inspired by abstractions of biological functions: polarized skylight-based navigation sensors in honeybees (Apis mellifera) and the ability of African elephants (Loxodonta africana) to detect water. 2.  Three approaches are combined to realize the sensor concept: A biomimetic polarization-detection device that uses UV sensing to sense changes in moisture content of the air, and infrasound- and infrared based ones, for localization of underground rivers and visualization of their exact routes.

J Detects Water in Unusual Places J

Further Reading • 

Makarczuk T., Matin T.R., Karman S.B., Diah S.Z.M., Davaji B., Macqueen M.O., Mueller J., Schmid U. and Gebeshuber I.C. (2011) "Biomimetic MEMS to assist, enhance and expand human sensory perceptions: a survey on state-of-the art developments", Proc. SPIE 8066, 80661O(15p). •  Karman S.B., Diah S.Z.M. and Gebeshuber I.C. (2012) "Bio-inspired polarized skylight-based navigation sensors: A review", Sensors 12(11), 14232-14261. •  Futterknecht O., Macqueen M.O., Karman S., Diah S.Z.M. and Gebeshuber I.C. (2013) "Biomimetic MEMS sensor array for navigation and water detection", SPIE Microtechnologies, Grenoble, France, April 24-26, 2013.

© Berndnaut Smilde

Acknowledgement Partly funded by the Government of Malaysia via FRGS/1/2013/TK02/UKM/01/1.


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