Implantable microfluidic and electronic systems for insect flight manipulation

Aram J. Chung, Bernardo Cordovez, Nipun Jasuja, Daniel J. Lee, Xinyu Toby Huang, David Erickson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Insect micro air vehicles represent a promising alternative to traditional small scale aircraft because they combine the enhanced energy storage and maneuverability of living insects with the controllability offered by microelectromechanical systems. These systems have been previously demonstrated, usually using either electrical (with implanted electrodes) or chemical (with implanted microfluidics) control schemes, but to date little work has been done on the creation of hybrid systems that use both these methods simultaneously. In this paper, we develop an integrated microsystem that uses both chemical and electrical methods to modulate the flight activity of Manduca sexta moths. The integration of two control schemes is essential because it could increase the number of achievable flight routines and duration. The electrical component of the system initiates and maintains flight by applying electrical pulses to an antenna lobe and an implanted drug delivery component modulates flight output power by administering a neurotransmitter dose to the central nervous system. Flight duration results acquired with this system are compared with those obtained from direct mechanical stimulation. We demonstrate that the electrical stimulation provides as much as 35-fold enhancement in flight duration with respect to mechanical agitation and that a 50% mean flight power output reduction can be achieved with the proper neurotransmitter dose.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)345-352
Number of pages8
JournalMicrofluidics and Nanofluidics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2012 Sept
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgments The authors would like to thank J. Atchison for his contributions towards the boost converter design, Prof. M. Campbell and Prof. H. Kress-Gazit for access to the VICON system, M. Kalontarov for helpful discussions, Prof. H. Lipson for access to the 3D Acrylic Printer and Dr. M. Ozgur at MEMS Exchange. This work was supported by the DARPA Defense Sciences Office under the HI-MEMS program through the BTI for Plant Research. Distribution unlimited. The facilities used for this research include Cornell Nanoscale Science and Technology Facility (CNF), Nanobiotechnology Center (NBTC) at Cornell University.


  • Drug delivery
  • Insect cyborg
  • Keywords Microfluidics
  • Manduca Sexta moth flight control

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Materials Chemistry


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