Faculty Advisor

John J. Rosowski

Faculty Advisor

Jefferey T. Cheng

Faculty Advisor

Loris Fischera

Faculty Advisor

Douglas T. Petkie

Faculty Advisor

Richard D. Sisson Jr.

Faculty Advisor

Cosme Furlong


The middle ear plays an integral role in the normal hearing process by transforming sound energy from the air inside the ear canal into vibrations of the inner-ear fluid, and a malfunction in any middle-ear component can lead to significant hearing loss. Despite decades of research on the Tympanic Membrane (TM or eardrum), the transformation of sound energy into ossicular mechanical vibrations is not yet well understood. Part of this is because the available clinical and research tools provide insufficient data to understand the complexities of this transformation. The data insufficiency arises due to methodological, technological, and physiological limitations such as required nanometer and microsecond spatio-temporal resolutions of the sound-induced TM motions. Although holographic methods provide nondestructive non-contact measuring capabilities that satisfy most of the constraints for TM measurements, the influence of large submillimeter scale physiological motions in live samples produced by heartbeat and breathing can result in near complete saturation of TM holograms. In this Dissertation, a new high-speed correlation interferometry holographic method is proposed that can compensate for the effects of physiological noise using an open-loop control configuration. Preliminary animal measurements with the proposed method demonstrate the necessary accuracy and precision to measure the motion of the entire TM produced by short- duration (≥1 kHz) transient stimuli. Such rapid measurements reduce the effect of the longer and slower environmental and physiologic noises, and enable clinical applications. In the second part of this Dissertation, a novel multiple wavelength high-speed holographic interferometric shape measurement method is incorporated into the high-speed displacement measurements. The method uses the imaging optics of the displacement measurement system to perform shape and orientation measurements. Displacement and shape measurements can be made in less than 200 msec and allow computation of true surface-normal displacements. The surface-normal measurements are independent of the direction of observation, which helps comparisons of measurements made after changes in TM orientation or location. The results enable accurate and precise shape and displacement measurements for use in applications such as modal and finite element analyses, additive manufacturing of prosthetic TM grafts, clinical diagnosis, hearing rehabilitation, as well as optimization of hearing devices. In addition, measured shape parameters such as curvature, depth of cone etc., can help us understand TM mechanics and contribute to quantitative diagnostic assessments.


Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Degree Name



Manufacturing Engineering

Project Type


Date Accepted





Middle ear mechanics, High-speed holographic interferometry, Tympanic Membrane, Transient displacement measurements, Shape measurements