The development of novel microfabrication techniques for producing a directional microphone for hearing aids is here described. The mechanisms underlying both the structure and function of these unusual microphones were originally inspired by the ears of an inconspicuous insect, the parasitoid fly Ormia ochracea. The structure of Ormia’s ears inspired new approaches to design directional microphones that are more sensitive and have lower thermal noise than that typical of those using traditional approaches. The mechanisms for directional hearing in this animal are discussed along with the engineering design concepts that they have inspired, because they illustrate how basic research can inspire technology development–translational research. However, to realize the potential of bioexploitation this microphone diaphragm concept would have been very difficult to realize without the availability of new silicon microfabrication technologies. Thus, this report can be viewed as an example of what may be possible with the application of new fabrication methods to microphones. Challenges and opportunities provided by the use of silicon microfabrication technology for microphones are discussed.

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