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Stuttgart opens laser-Doppler vibrometry center

27 Nov 2013

Aims to adapt engineering tests to biomechanics applications for medical benefits.

A laser-Doppler vibrometry research and development facility has been opened at the University of Stuttgart, Germany, with the aim of making measurement techniques used in mechanical engineering beneficial for biomechanics.

The cooperative center of excellence is supported by the Institute for Technical and Computational Mechanics (ITM) at the University of Stuttgart as well as Polytec, Waldbronn, Germany, which develops non-contact vibration measurement technologies. The Stuttgart team says people with hearing impairments in particular are likely to benefit from the research.

Laser-Doppler vibrometry is a measurement technique that records the smallest of movements, in the nanometer range, and so makes highly dynamic processes accessible and visible without interfering with the measurement object. It is conventionally employed in technical systems such as machines, robots or vehicles.

Head of ITM Prof. Peter Eberhard commented, “Laser-Doppler vibrometry at ITM enables us to perform a range of interesting applications and achieve significant analyses.” Dr. Stefan König, responsible for sales in South Germany at Polytec added, “Based on our experience and the equipment we offer for laser measurement technologies, we are creating conditions for doing excellent research and deliver quality training.”

Hearing aid innovations

Dr. Albrecht Eiber, deputy head of ITM Stuttgart commented, “Laser vibrometry is a basic methodological approach to record and to understand vibrations. It can therefore also be used with biomechanical processes, such as sound transmission through the middle ear to the inner ear.”

He has been researching for several years with various LV processes, such as computer simulation on implants that enables hearing damaged through age, illness or an accident to be reconstructed. Along with passive prostheses with the function of spare parts, active prostheses can also be developed to strengthen the incoming acoustic signal within the ear.

Eiber said, “These types of measurements are possible with the help of the contact-free laser-Doppler vibrometry, which is helping with the development of both passive implants and active hearing aids for use in a minimally invasive way and which offer the patient the maximum degree of comfort and security.”

Towards the development of the new vibrometry R&D center, Stuttgart ITM has been working with the university clinics of Zurich (Switzerland), Cologne and Hanover, both Germany, and with several commercial partners. For several years the institute has been working with various types of Laser-Doppler vibrometers from Polytec.

The idea is to exchange experiences and know-how in the framework of the centre of excellence and to show future application possibilities for laser-Doppler vibrometry in biomechanics, medicine and mechanical engineering. In addition, linking measurement and simulations plays an important role. A diverse range of questions for project, degree and doctoral work arise for the students regarding everything to do with the topic of vibration measurement technology and laser-Doppler vibrometry.

UK opening LV lab

Last month, optics.org reported that the UK’s first laser vibrometry test facility will open in early 2014. ASDEC, a partnership between the University of Leicester and Polytec, will offer new robot-mounted R&D facilities for automotive and engineering systems designers.

About the Author

Matthew Peach is a contributing editor tooptics.org.

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