Thin-film stretchable sensors are believed to have a great applications on devices with curved surfaces. As one type of these sensors, electronic skins (e-skins) for pressure measurement have the potential to provide protection to the human body by feeding back the contact pressure. One of the applications is to monitor the contact pressure from a colonoscope to the colonic wall during a colonoscopy to prevent perforation and hemorrhaging. Many studies have reported the highly flexible and stretchable nature of e-skin sensors. However, no effort has been made to investigate their performance in a colon simulator. In this paper, we developed a new technique to make ultra-Thin, highly stretchable electrodes on thin films. Then we successfully built a three-layer tube-shaped tactile sensor with high conformability and stretchability. We then investigated the pressure generated by various bending curvatures on a colonoscope. Finally, we performed a real-Time pressure measurement with the whole sensing system on a fake colonoscope in a colon-simulator. The measured pressure was obtained and visualized on a computer screen. These experiments validated the applicability of the designed sensor and revealed the actual stress distribution on a tube-shaped e-skin sensor array in a colon-simulator. This research could be the starting point of the effort to upgrade the strategies of colonoscopy for safer operations and could provide new routines to optimize tactile sensor design for other medical applications.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Manuscript received January 12, 2018; revised January 18, 2018; accepted January 19, 2018. Date of publication January 26, 2018; date of current version February 21, 2018. This work was supported by the Grant-in-Aid program and the Exploratory Grants RFP for the MnDRIVE (Minnesota’s Discovery, Research and Innovation Economy) Initiative on Robotics, Sensors, and Advanced Manufacturing at the University of Minnesota. The associate editor coordinating the review of this paper and approving it for publication was Prof. Weileun Fang. (Corresponding author: Debao Zhou.) Y. Sun and J. Bai are with the Department of Electrical Engineering, University of Minnesota, Duluth, MN 55812 USA (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com).
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