Faculty Advisor

Cosme Furlong

Faculty Advisor

John J. Rosowski

Faculty Advisor

John M. Sullivan

Faculty Advisor

Allen H. Hoffman

Faculty Advisor

Pilar Arroyo

Faculty Advisor

Jamal S. Yagoobi


"Hearing loss affects approximately 1 in 10 people in the world and this percentage is increasing every year. Some of the most common causes of hearing loss are disorders of the middle-ear. Early detection and diagnosis of hearing loss as well as research to understand the hearing processes depend on medical and research tools for quantification of hearing capabilities and the function of the middle-ear in the complex acousto-mechanical transformation of environmental sounds into vibrations of the middle-ear, particular of the human tympanic membrane (TM or eardrum). Current ear exams assess the state of a patient’s hearing capabilities mainly based on qualitative evaluation of the healthiness of the TM. Existing quantitative clinical methods for description of the motion of the TM are limited to either average acoustic estimates (admittance or reflectance) or single-point displacement measurements. Such methods could leave examiners and researchers blind to the complex spatio-temporal response of the nanometer scale displacements of the entire TM. Current state-of-the-art medical research tools provide full-field nanometer displacement measurements of the surface of the human TM excited by steady state (tonal) stimuli. However, to fully understand the mechanics of hearing, and the complex acousto-mechanical characteristics of TM in particular, new tools are needed for full-field high-speed characterization of the nanometer scale displacements of the human TM subjected to impulse (wideband) acoustic excitation. This Dissertation reports the development of a new high-speed holographic system (HHS) for full-field nanometer transient (i.e., > 10 kHz) displacement measurement of the human middle-ear and the tympanic membrane, in particular. The HHS allows spatial (i.e., >500k data points) and temporal (i.e., > 40 kHz) resolutions that enable the study of the acoustical and mechanical characteristics of the middle-ear at a level of detail that have never been reached before. The realization of the HHS includes the development and implementation of novel phase sampling and acquisition approaches that allow the use of state-of-the-art high-resolution (i.e., >5 MP) and high-speed (> 80,000 fps) cameras through modular and expandable control architectures. The development of novel acquisition approaches allows the use of conventional speed (i.e., <20 fps) cameras to realize high-temporal resolutions (i.e., <15 us) at equivalent sampling rates of > 50,000 fps with minimum hardware cost and modifications. The design and implementation of novel spatio-temporal phase sampling methods utilize the high temporal resolution (i.e., < 5 us exposure) and frame rate (i.e., >80,000 fps) of high-speed cameras without imposing constraints on their spatial resolution (i.e., >20 um pixel size). Additionally, the research and in-vivo applications capabilities of the HHS are extended through the development and implementation of a holographic otoscope head (OH) and a mechatronic otoscope positioner (MOP). The large (i.e., > 1 GB with > 8x10^9 parameters) spatio-temporal data sets of the HHS measurements are automatically processed by custom parallel data mining and interpretation (PDMI) methods, which allow automatic quantification of medically relevant motion parameters (MRMPs), such as modal frequencies, time constants, and acoustic delays. Such capabilities could allow inferring local material properties across the surface of the TM. The HHS is a new medical tool that enables otologists to improve the quality of diagnosis and treatments as well as provides researchers with spatio-temporal information of the hearing process at a level of detail never reached before. "


Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Degree Name



Mechanical Engineering

Project Type


Date Accepted





Otology, Transient response, Tympanic membrane, High-speed cameras, High-speed digital holography, Acoustic-solid interaction