Touch at a distance sensing: lateral-line inspired MEMS flow sensors

Ajay G iri Prakash Kottapalli, Mohsen Asadnia, Jianmin Miao, Michael Triantafyllou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

87 Citations (Scopus)


Evolution bestowed the blind cavefish with a resourcefully designed lateral-line of sensors that play an essential role in many important tasks including object detection and avoidance, energy-efficient maneuvering, rheotaxis etc. Biologists identified the two types of vital sensors on the fish bodies called the superficial neuromasts and the canal neuromasts that are responsible for flow sensing and pressure-gradient sensing, respectively. In this work, we present the design, fabrication and experimental characterization of biomimetic polymer artificial superficial neuromast micro-sensor arrays. These biomimetic micro-sensors demonstrated a high sensitivity of 0.9 mV/(m s(-1)) and 0.022 V/(m s(-1)) and threshold velocity detection limits of 0.1 m s(-1) and 0.015 m s(-1) in determining air and water flows respectively. Experimental results demonstrate that the biological canal inspired polymer encapsulation on the array of artificial superficial neuromast sensors is capable of filtering steady-state flows that could otherwise significantly mask the relevant oscillatory flow signals of high importance.

Original languageEnglish
Article number046011
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalBioinspiration & biomimetics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Biomimetic MEMS
  • Canal neuromast
  • Lateral-line
  • Liquid crystal polymer
  • Polymer flow sensor
  • Superficial neuromast


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