Acoustic Sensors inspired by Insect Ears

9 May 2024

12:00 pm

Online Zoom webinar



The ability to detect sound is a sense found across multiple animals in the natural world. Hearing in the insects has evolved independently many times. This has produced a huge variety of different miniature acoustic sensory systems, with many different characteristics and novel features. Over the years many people have attempted to take inspiration from such hearing systems, with the most well-known being the miniature directional ear of the fly Ormia ochracea. However, there are various inherent problems in this endeavour. Firstly, the acoustic structures found in the natural world are three dimensional, composed of softer biological materials, and evolved for specific tasks. Secondly, the development cycle for researchers working on microphones depends on their ability to access fabrication facilities. The turnaround time, particularly for academic research, is often measured in months. This talk will present work at Strathclyde to create biologically inspired acoustic systems, starting with early work using standard micro-electro-mechanical fabrication. It will then expand into our work to develop digital light processing 3D printing techniques as a method to rapidly create novel acoustic systems.


James Windmill is a Professor in the Department for Electronic & Electrical Engineering, at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, Scotland. He is a world leader on biologically-inspired acoustic and ultrasonic systems. The goal of his cross-disciplinary research is to translate the findings from fundamental research in biological sensory systems to inspire novel artificial sensor and transducer systems. This then expands to the implementation of those novel systems across industrial sectors, including consumer electronics, defence, medical devices, non-destructive evaluation and sustainable engineering. At Strathclyde he is Director of the Centre for Ultrasonic Engineering, one of the UK’s largest ultrasound research centres. He has been successful in securing funding for his research through a variety of sources with a total portfolio exceeding £30M. He is also currently co-Director of the ESPRC CDT in Future Ultrasonic Engineering. “In 2024, Prof Windmill became the Director of the new Leverhulme Doctoral School in Nature Inspired Acoustics.

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Posted on 18th December 2023 in Early Career, Noise and Soundscape, Events, Bioacoustics (SIGBio)