Research Papers

Biomechanical Analysis of a Filiform Mechanosensory Hair Socket of Crickets

[+] Author and Article Information
Kanishka Joshi

Department of Mechanical Engineering,
Montana State University,
Bozeman, MT 59717

Ahsan Mian

Department of Mechanical and
Materials Engineering,
Wright State University,
Dayton, OH 45435
e-mail: ahsan.mian@wright.edu

John Miller

Department of Cell Biology and
Montana State University,
Bozeman, MT 59717

1Corresponding author.

Manuscript received December 19, 2014; final manuscript received June 6, 2016; published online July 6, 2016. Assoc. Editor: Mohammad Mofrad.

J Biomech Eng 138(8), 081006 (Jul 06, 2016) (11 pages) Paper No: BIO-14-1635; doi: 10.1115/1.4033915 History: Received December 19, 2014; Revised June 06, 2016

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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Fig. 1

Panel (a) shows an adult cricket. Panel (b) is a higher magnification view of the cerci which are situated at the rear of the abdomen. The filiform hairs can be seen clearly. Scale bars: (a) 1 cm and (b) 5 mm.

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Fig. 2

Schematic of hair and socket structure and the receptor neuron arrangement

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Fig. 3

An optical cross section through a filiform hair in its socket. The hollow channel through the center of the hair shaft is clearly visible in this section. The bulge in the hair lines up with the top of the socket rim.

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Fig. 4

Panel (a) shows a vertical section of the long axis of a filiform hair. The diameter of the hair measured at the dashed line is 11 μm. Panel (b) shows a magnification of the hair base and the short axis lies along the horizontal plane. Panel (c) again shows a magnification of the hair base, but now the section being viewed is the long axis, and hence is rotated 90 deg with respect to the one shown in panel (a). Scale bars: (a) 10 μm and (b) and (c): 5 μm.

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Fig. 5

Three-dimensional structure generated by imaris from a stack of images sectioned sideways with the filiform hair still in the socket

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Fig. 6

Structure sectioned along the long axis. Cutting plane is left visible so the thickness can be easily seen. Other dimensions: semimajor axis hair base diameter (not shown): 10.4 μm; total hair length: 1100 μm; tissue, iris, and top and center socket thickness: 0.5 μm.

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Fig. 7

Contact faces on the hair body (left) and target faces of the socket body for the hair base/socket base contact region (right)

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Fig. 8

Contact faces on the hair body (left) and target faces on the socket body for the hair bulge/socket iris contact region (right)

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Fig. 9

Mesh of the skirt feature (units in μm). The finer mesh at the iris and hair bulge is also visible.

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Fig. 10

The outside face of the skirt was fixed or clamped. This can be seen in blue.

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Fig. 11

The bottom faces of the hair base and socket base were constrained to not move along the short (x) axis only

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Fig. 12

Total equivalent elastic strain in socket and hair

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Fig. 13

The hair base slides out of contact and cannot transfer a stress to the upper part of the socket base, but it does to the lower part

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Fig. 14

Top image shows the area where the highest pressure occurs at the hair and socket base contact area. The bottom image is a zoomed-in view of the area marked by a circle.

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Fig. 15

Vertical displacement of the vertex at the base flange over time (load steps). The gray vertical line shows where the hair and socket contact occurs.

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Fig. 16

Horizontal displacement of the vertex at the base flange over time (load steps). The gray vertical line shows where the hair and socket contact occurs.

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Fig. 17

The direction of the arrow cluster illustrates the vector sum of deformation while its magnitude is shown in the legend (units of μm)

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Fig. 18

Belt edges used for calculating spring constant

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Fig. 19

The horizontal line above F = 0.3 μN is where the contact occurs and the changes in the slopes are clearly visible past that point

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Fig. 20

Stresses on the iris inside wall versus load step plot

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Fig. 21

Total deformation (in μm) at final load step

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Fig. 22

The two slopes are easily identifiable. The hair bulge and socket iris contact occurs just before 0.2 rad.

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Fig. 23

Numbers indicating different regions (description is given in Table 1) for meshing with predefined element sizing option. Red arrow shows the location of applied point load for mesh sensitivity analysis.

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Fig. 24

Discretized model using mesh options mesh 1 and mesh 4 as given in Table 1: (a) mesh 1 and (b) mesh 4

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Fig. 25

Displacement of loading point as a function of total number of elements




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