Micropower Impulse Radio For Remote Controlled Insect Flight
Insects have remarkable strength and stamina compared to their body mass and fly and manuver effortlessly in ways that are impossible for present day robotic flyers. Therefore, efforts to control and direct flying insects for our own purposes have a huge potential payoff. One such effort, discussed in this dissertation, concerns the control of a Manduca Sexta moth by sending commands by radio to neural probes implanted in the thorax. The electronics hardware represents a major challenge in itself because the moth can carry only 700 milligrams, most of which is occupied by a small watch-battery. Ultimately, the moth must carry not only a radio receiver to pick up commands sent by the controller, but also a transmitter to return gathered information and fulfill its mission. Commercial "low-power", burst-mode radios have proven inadeqate because the battery cannot satisfy their peak power consumption. Instead, this dissertation focuses on the development of an alternative "impulse radio", which consumes power only during the ~100 picosecond interval required to generate a microwave pulse. The specific transmitter architecture presented here uses a nonlinear transmission line to directly convert digital signals provided by a microcontroller into microwave pulses broadcast by an antenna. This dissertation discusses (1) the background and theory of impulse-radios and (2) nonlinear transmission lines, (3) circuit board prototypes and (4) a CMOS implementation of the trans- mitter, (5) a study of the wireless link between the moth and its controller, as well as (6) efforts to implement the radio using light-weight, inexpensive plastic and polymer materials, before (7) reflecting on the potential of the new transmitter and possible directions for future work.
dissertation or thesis