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Electrolocation

The elephant-nose fish Gnatonemus peterssii use electric fields to orient in the absence of light. By using this ‘active electrolocation’ the fish can investigate the electrical properties, the distance, the size and the shape of targets.

We develop in cooperation with the University Bonn a new sensor for coronary diagnostics.

Some fish, e.g. the elephant-nose fish Gnatonemus peterssii, Fig. 1, use electric fields to orient in the absence of light. By using this ‘active electrolocation’ the fish can investigate the electrical properties, the distance, the size and the shape of targets. The fish’s electrolocation system consists of an electric organ in the tail to produce the electric field, numerous electroreceptors in the skin to sense the field and the brain for signal processing. Mimicking these sensing features can generate miscellaneous sensors, e.g. a sensor to localize targets or a distance sensor. Potential applications are a bionic electrolocation sensor for coronary diagnostics (http://bionikgraduate.uni-bonn.de/projects/electro.php).

Distortions of equipotential field lines Fig. 2: Distortions of equipotential field lines in the vicinity of the fish due to different targets. The density of the field lines on the skin of the fish is influenced by the material, the size and the distance of the target. With permission of K. Mayekar, Inst. of Zoology, University of Bonn

  

Experimental set-up for the electrolocation of targets Fig. 3: Experimental set-up for the electrolocation of targets with a catheter inside a tub filled with water. The catheter can be moved by a 3-axis stepping motor unit through a tube equipped with a target. The stepping motors and the signal acquisition are controlled by LabView

 For the evaluation and the design of the electrolocation sensor we use finite element methods, fig. 2 and experiments, fig.3.

 

Collaborations:

University of Bonn

 

References:

 

1.      Metzen, M. G., S. Biswas,Bousack, H., M. G. Gottwald, Mayekar, K. and von der Emde; A biomimetic active electrolocation sensor for detection atherosclerotic lesions in blood vessels, IEEE Sensors Journal, accepted for publication

2.       von der Emde, G., Mayekar, K., Bousack, H., Pabst, M.; Biologisch inspirierte aktive Elektroortungs-Sensoren, Proceedings MikroSystemTechnik Kongress 2009, VDE Verlag GmbH Berlin Offenbach, S. 562 – 565, 2009

3.      von der Emde, G., Mayekar, K., Bousack, H., Pabst, M.; Simulation of Bionic Electrolocation Sensor based on Weakly Electric Fish;  World Congress on Nature & Biologically Inspired Computing (NaBIC 2009), Coimbatore, India, 9 - 11. Dec. 2009

4.      von der Emde, G., Bousack, H., Huck, C., Mayekar, K., Pabst, M., Zhang, Y.; Electric fishes as a natural models for technical sensor systems, Microtechnologies for the New Millenium, Dresden, 4 - 6. May 2009

 


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