Hair flow sensors: From bio-inspiration to bio-mimicking - A review

Junliang Tao, Xiong Yu

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

148 Scopus citations


A great many living beings, such as aquatics and arthropods, are equipped with highly sensitive flow sensors to help them survive in challenging environments. These sensors are excellent sources of inspiration for developing application-driven artificial flow sensors with high sensitivity and performance. This paper reviews the bio-inspirations on flow sensing in nature and the bio-mimicking efforts to emulate such sensing mechanisms in recent years. The natural flow sensing systems in aquatics and arthropods are reviewed to highlight inspirations at multiple levels such as morphology, sensing mechanism and information processing. Biomimetic hair flow sensors based on different sensing mechanisms and fabrication technologies are also reviewed to capture the recent accomplishments and to point out areas where further progress is necessary. Biomimetic flow sensors are still in their early stages. Further efforts are required to unveil the sensing mechanisms in the natural biological systems and to achieve multi-level bio-mimicking of the natural system to develop their artificial counterparts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number113001
JournalSmart Materials and Structures
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2012
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Signal Processing
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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