For every living species on our planet there are corresponding biological applications of laser vibrometry. One of the most prominent is in insect communication. Some insect sounds are quite loud, such as the singing of the cicada, while others are ultrasonic and can’t be heard. Some insects are so small that their songs are transmitted mainly through a plant rather than air.
Entomologists can use vibrometers to record this unheard noise for later study. Consider honeycomb vibrations in beehives: these signals can only be measured with highly sophisticated equipment. Other biological applications include studying communication between elephants, fruit ripeness, spiderweb motion, and the hearing mechanism in frogs and fruit flies.
Crickets possess a hair array that can detect minute changes in air flow, measuring particle velocity. It is one of the most sensitive sensory systems known. By understanding how this highly sensitive bio-sensor works, we open the door to engineering new sensors that substitute micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS) technology for insect biology.
Fruit Fly Ears
Fly ears are complex micromechanical machines that amplify tiny acoustic vibrations and convert them into electrical signals. What kind of structures and processes are responsible for signal processing inside the ear? Laser-doppler vibrometry brings insight into the sophisticated mechanisms of hearing in fruit flies.
Communication in Beehives
Social insects are excellent subjects for study. Understanding their mechanical systems and the evolution of differentiated meaningful communication signals is important. The use of innovative methods for quantitative acquisition of signals and their transmission has shown how brilliantly honeybees have utilized the vibrations they produce, the way in which they transmit such signals via the honeycomb and the respective size of the audience for each dancer.