Interview: Jérôme Casas, Biologist, Tours University

Categorie(s) : Interviews, Life @ MINATEC, News, Research

Published : 3 October 2016

In March you took on a new role: heading the Grenoble-based Instituts Carnot Chair for Bio-inspired Technology. What’s it all about?

I’m a guest researcher, and will be spending at least 20 days per year on site. I’ll be helping Leti researchers on several projects that should ultimately produce demonstrator systems. The first two involve an artificial nose and neuromorphic circuits capable of local information processing.

What can biology do for microsystems?

Living organisms present a level of operational efficiency shaped by the instinct to survive and enhanced by thousands of years of natural selection. They are sophisticated and unusual enough to drive breakthrough advances in technology.
For example, I headed an EU project based on the flight system of cockroaches and crickets, which consists of tiny hairs sensitive to air flows at just one tenth of a photon and a “local” brain connected to their back legs. If a cockroach detects danger, its flight system is triggered even before its brain is aware anything is wrong. You can’t get much better than that when it comes to distributed processing and control!µ
And how do you work with technology experts?

It really is a back-and-forth. It’s not just about what biology can do for technology. Biological systems are nothing if not coherent. So, what I can help with is a holistic, system-wide picture. The techies come back to me with questions to better understand a system, which is usually quite complex, so they can leverage it for bio-inspired developments. It’s an iterative process.


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