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This paper aimed to develop a miniaturized tactile sensor capable of measuring force and force position in minimally invasive surgery. The in situ measurement of tactile information is a step forward toward restoring the loss of the sense of touch that has occurred due to shift from traditional to minimally invasive surgeries. The sensor was designed such that it can sense low forces which could be comparable to those produced by pulsating delicate arteries, yet can withstand high forces comparable to grasping forces. The influence of some hidden anatomical features, such as lumps, voids, and arteries, on the stress distribution at the grasping surface was studied. In this paper, the capability of the sensor to determine and locate any point load was also investigated. The proposed sensor was designed and manufactured to be highly sensitive, using polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF). The microfabrication procedure of the sensor, including corner compensation for toothlike projections and patterning of PVDF film, was discussed. The micromachined sensor was tested, and the experimental results were compared with the results of 3-D finite element modeling.
Date of Publication: Feb. 2009