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Open AccessArticle

Micro-Machined Flow Sensors Mimicking Lateral Line Canal Neuromasts

Institute for Zoology, University of Bonn, Poppelsdorfer Schloss, Bonn 53115, Germany
Micro Systems Technology (MST), Center of Advanced European Studies and Research (caesar), Bonn 53175, Germany
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Joost Lötters
Micromachines 2015, 6(8), 1189-1212;
Received: 4 May 2015 / Accepted: 18 August 2015 / Published: 24 August 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biomimetic Systems)
Fish sense water motions with their lateral line. The lateral line is a sensory system that contains up to several thousand mechanoreceptors, called neuromasts. Neuromasts occur freestanding on the skin and in subepidermal canals. We developed arrays of flow sensors based on lateral line canal neuromasts using a biomimetic approach. Each flow sensor was equipped with a PDMS (polydimethylsiloxane) lamella integrated into a canal system by means of thick- and thin-film technology. Our artificial lateral line system can estimate bulk flow velocity from the spatio-temporal propagation of flow fluctuations. Based on the modular sensor design, we were able to detect flow rates in an industrial application of tap water flow metering. Our sensory system withstood water pressures of up to six bar. We used finite element modeling to study the fluid flow inside the canal system and how this flow depends on canal dimensions. In a second set of experiments, we separated the flow sensors from the main stream by means of a flexible membrane. Nevertheless, these biomimetic neuromasts were still able to sense flow fluctuations. Fluid separation is a prerequisite for flow measurements in medical and pharmaceutical applications. View Full-Text
Keywords: flow sensing; artificial lateral line; MEMS; mechanosensor; lateral line canal; finite element modeling flow sensing; artificial lateral line; MEMS; mechanosensor; lateral line canal; finite element modeling
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MDPI and ACS Style

Herzog, H.; Steltenkamp, S.; Klein, A.; Tätzner, S.; Schulze, E.; Bleckmann, H. Micro-Machined Flow Sensors Mimicking Lateral Line Canal Neuromasts. Micromachines 2015, 6, 1189-1212.

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