On the Way to the Bionic Man: A Novel Approach to MEMS Based on Biological Sensory Systems


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The human senses are of extraordinary value, but we cannot change them, even if this proves to be a disadvantage in our modern times. However, we can assist, enhance and expand these senses via MEMS. This paper introduces data for a push-pull analysis method based on a concise summary of senses in organisms and MEMS sensors that already have reached the market, giving an overview where current MEMS technology excels (available solutions) and where natural sensor systems excel. It provides a knowledge base for further development of MEMS sensors. Some animals and even humans (with artificial lenses after cataract surgery) can see in the infrared and ultraviolet range; related MEMS with IR/UV sensitivity might assist us to determine the status of organisms. The hearing capabilities of bats (ultrasound) can inspire echolocation in man. Butterflies have exquisite thermoregulation; this might lead to MEMS that are better protected from overheating. Mice can smell important information about another mouse’s immune system and mosquitoes detect minuscule amounts of carbon dioxide and lactic acid; thereby inspired MEMS could serve as medical or environmental scanners. The senses for magnetism, vibrations and electroreception that are used by animals might satisfy the need for MEMS in navigation and orientation. MEMS that are skillfully added to the human body can provide additional perceptory data. Future research will identify where already available MEMS excel and which outstanding properties of sensory systems can easily be replicated by ‘off the shelf’ systems.



Edited by:

Lynn Khine and Julius M. Tsai




S. B. Karman et al., "On the Way to the Bionic Man: A Novel Approach to MEMS Based on Biological Sensory Systems", Advanced Materials Research, Vol. 254, pp. 38-41, 2011

Online since:

May 2011




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