Biomechanical Analysis of a Filiform Mechanosensory Hair Socket of Crickets

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Filiform mechanosensory hairs of crickets are of great interest to engineers because of the hairs' highly sensitive response to low-velocity air-currents. In this study, we analyze the biomechanical properties of filiform hairs of the cercal sensory system of a common house cricket. The cercal sensory system consists of two antennalike appendages called cerci that are situated at the rear of the cricket's abdomen. Each cercus is covered with 500–750 flow sensitive filiform mechanosensory hairs. Each hair is embedded in a complex viscoelastic socket that acts as a spring and dashpot system and guides the movement of the hair. When a hair deflects due to the drag force induced on its length by a moving air-current, the spiking activity of the neuron that innervates the hair changes and the combined spiking activity of all hairs is extracted by the cercal sensory system. Filiform hairs have been experimentally studied by researchers, though the basis for the hairs' biomechanical characteristics is not fully understood. The socket structure has not been analyzed experimentally or theoretically from a mechanical standpoint, and the characterization that exists is mathematical in nature and only provides a very rudimentary approximation of the socket's spring nature. This study aims to understand and physically characterize the socket's behavior and interaction with the filiform hair by examining hypotheses about the hair and socket biomechanics. A three-dimensional computer-aided design (CAD) model was first created using confocal microscopy images of the hair and socket structure of the cricket, and then finite-element analyses (FEAs) based on the physical conditions that the insect experiences were simulated. The results show that the socket can act like a spring; however, it has two-tier rotational spring constants during pre- and postcontacts of iris and hair bulge due to its constitutive nonstandard geometric shapes.



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