Michel Maharbiz

Professor of of Electrical Engineering
Keywords: controls
Research Areas: microsystems, MEMS, bioMEMS, microfluidics
Website: http://www.eecs.berkeley.edu/Faculty/Homepages/maharbiz.html

Research Description:
Despite major advances, performance of micro air vehicles (MAV’s) is still limited in terms of size, payload capacity, endurance, and controllability. Various species of insects, among them flies (diptera), moths (lepidoptera), dragonflies (odonata) and beetles (coleoptera) have as-yet unmatched flight capabilities and increasingly well understood muscular and nervous systems. Additionally, some of these insects undergo complete metamorphosis making them amenable to implantation and internal manipulation during metamorphosis. In light of this, we attempt to create implantable bio-interface to electrically stimulate nervous and muscular systems of an alive insect to jack its flight control. Our first target is beetle for the insect platform, and we call it ‘cyborg beetle’.

As insect platform for cyborg beetle, we employed three different sized beetles: Cotinis texana (2 cm, 0.3 g payload), Mecynorhina torquata (7 cm, 1.8 g payload) and Megasoma elephas (20 cm, 4.0 g payload). Smaller one navigates into tiny spots while larger one carries heavier extra instruments (ex. miniaturized camera). Our neural stimulator consisted of a microcontroller and a microbattery, both of which were mounted on dorsal thorax of the beetles. The microcontroller was connected with wire electrodes whose another terminals were inserted into left and right compound eyes (optic lobes). After systematic survey for appropriate flight-control-signals, our neural stimulator achieved initiation, cessation, elevation and turn control. All the flight control movies will be demonstrated by the poster.

Selected Publications:

  • T. Kim, M. Pinelis, and M. Maharbiz, “Generating steep, sheer-free gradients of small molecules for cell culture,” Biomedical Microdevices, 2008.
  • M. Pinelis, L. Shamban, A. Jovic, and M. Maharbiz, “A high-yield method for generating mass-transfer gradients in elastomer microfluidics using impermeable capillaries,” Biomedical Microdevices, vol. 10, no. 6, pp. 807-811, Dec. 2008.
  • R. F. Ismagilov and M. Maharbiz, “Can we build synthetic, multicellular systems by controlling developmental signaling in space and time?,” Current Opinion in Chemical Biology, vol. 11, no. 6, pp. 604-611, Dec. 2008.
  • T. Bansal, M. Chang, and M. Maharbiz, “A class of low voltage, elastomer-metal ‘wet’ actuators for use in high-density microfluidics (Communication),” Lab on a Chip, vol. 7, no. 2, pp. 164-166, Feb. 2008.
  • H. Sato, C. W. Berry, B. E. Casey, G. Lavella, Y. Yao, J. M. VandenBrooks, and M. Maharbiz, “A cyborg beetle: Insect flight control through an implantable tetherless microsystem,” in 21st IEEE Intl. Conf. on Micro Electro Mechanical Systems (MEMS 2008) Technical Digest, Piscataway, NJ: IEEE Press, 2008, pp. 164-167.
  • R. T. Borno, J. D. Steinmeyer, and M. Maharbiz, “Transpiration actuation: The design, fabrication and characterization of biomimetic microactuators driven by the surface tension of water,” J. Micromechanics and Microengineering, vol. 16, no. 11, pp. 2375-2383, Nov. 2006.
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