Numerical simulations of odorant detection by biologically inspired sensor arrays

Schuech, R., Stacey, M. T., Barad, M. F. and Koehl, M. A. R. (2012) Numerical simulations of odorant detection by biologically inspired sensor arrays. Bioinspiration & Biomimetics, 7 (1). 016001. ISSN 1748-3182

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Item Type:Article
Item Status:Live Archive

Abstract

The antennules of many marine crustaceans enable them to rapidly locate sources of odorant in turbulent environmental flows and may provide biological inspiration for engineered plume sampling systems. A substantial gap in knowledge concerns how the physical interaction between a sensing device and the chemical filaments forming a turbulent plume affects odorant detection and filters the information content of the plume. We modeled biological arrays of chemosensory hairs as infinite arrays of odorant flux-detecting cylinders and simulated the fluid flow around and odorant flux into the hair-like sensors as they intercepted a single odorant filament. As array geometry and sampling kinematics were varied, we quantified distortion of the flux time series relative to the spatial shape of the original odorant filament as well as flux metrics that may be important to both organisms and engineered systems attempting to measure plume structure and/or identify chemical composition. The most important predictor of signal distortion is the ratio of sensor diameter to odorant filament width. Achieving high peak properties (e.g. sharpness) of the flux time series and maximizing the total number of odorant molecules detected appear to be mutually exclusive design goals. Sensor arrays inspired specifically by the spiny lobster Panulirus argus and mantis shrimp Gonodactylaceus falcatus introduce little signal distortion but these species’ neural systems may not be able to resolve plume structure at the level of individual filaments via temporal properties of the odorant flux. Current chemical sensors are similarly constrained. Our results suggest either that the spatial distribution of flux across the aesthetasc array is utilized by P. argus and G. falcatus, or that such high spatiotemporal resolution is unnecessary for effective plume tracking.

Keywords:crustacean, antennules, olfaction, plume tracking
Subjects:H Engineering > H673 Bioengineering
Divisions:College of Science
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ID Code:16659
Deposited On:08 Feb 2015 20:47

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