MSc thesis project proposal

A More Integrated Fabrication Flow for a Bio-inspired Hair-like Airflow Sensor on a Flapping Wing Micro Air Vehicle

Advances in microfabrication technologies can inspire new applications in the field of micro air vehicles (MAV), where small drones can have a major impact on civilian tasks. Among the different types of MAVs, the flapping wing MAVs (FWMAVs) are the smallest type of aircrafts and are more bio-inspired compared to other counterparts.
However, autonomous flying of FWMAVs poses major scientific and engineering challenges due to their size, weight and power restrictions. Furthermore, intelligent and efficient flight control could benefit from a suite of miniaturized sensors with different functions. Unfortunately, such advanced on-board sensor systems are beyond the current technology limits.
Among the different kinds of sensors commonly used in the MAV field, an airflow sensor that is integrated on a flapping wing MAV (Fig 1) could significantly contribute to more efficient flight control under wind disturbances.

Inspired by biology (Fig 2), the hair-like sensor concept (Fig 3) is considered as a potential airflow sensor.The prototype has been fabricated in a previous project such that airspeed data can be obtained through capacitance measurements. A flowchart with detailed fabrication steps up till the hair will be provided.
However, the fabrication of the hair and the subsequent protection structure of the hair (to maximize the sensor survival onboard a drone) remain a scientific and engineering challenge.


  1. Conduct a literature survey on fabrication of pillar-like high aspect ratio structures using photolithography techniques, and any out-of-box novel approaches
  2. Improve the existing fabrication flowchart to increase device yield and durability to pave for the next step: placement of the hair and the protection structure
  3. Experiment with fabrication of the hair and protection structure inside the cleanroom using provided materials
  4. Develop a workflow (e.g. metrology, microscopy etc.) to quantify the fabrication quality (of the hair and the protection structure)
  5. Perform measurements and evaluate the newly fabricated hair sensors
  6. Daily practice: a detailed lab logbook documentation and a MSc thesis report


Please send a few sentences introducing why you are interested in this project and your background to:
Dr. Henk van Zeijl, ECTM ( and Sunyi Wang, LR-CO-CS (


Last modified: 2023-11-07