Using Video Microscopy to Characterize Micromechanics of Biological and Man-Made Micromachines (invited)

Dennis M. Freeman and C. Quentin Davis

Presented at the Solid-State Sensor and Actuator Workshop

Hilton Head Island, SC, June 1996.

Like most of you in the audience, I'm interested in micromachines. However, unlike most of you, the micromachines that I am interested in occur naturally. And that has important consequences. For example, with biological micromachines, there IS no design problem. The design process is complete. It took about a billion years, but the design is now pretty stable. Furthermore, fabrication is a snap: it just takes nine months. Device characterization and system characterization is a different story. Decent spec sheets are available for very few biological micromachines. Today I'm going to tell you about a video microscopy system that our lab has developed to characterize the motions of biological micromachines.

My talk has four parts. First I'll introduce the topic of biological micromechanics, and I'll describe some of the research issues that we study in inner ear micromechanics. Next I'll describe a computer microvision system for measuring the motions of micromechanical systems. The computer microvision system combines video microscopy with computer vision to allow measurement of nanometer motions of micrometer-sized structures. I'll then show results that we have obtained using the computer microvision system to study hearing, and I'll close by demonstrating the application of computer microvision to MEMS.

Back to MIT Micromechanics group home page.