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Biosensors 2014, 4(4), 422-448; doi:10.3390/bios4040422

Microfabricated Tactile Sensors for Biomedical Applications: A Review

1
Center for Integrated Research, Unit of Measurements and Biomedical Instrumentation, Università Campus Bio-Medico di Roma, Via Álvaro del Portillo, Rome 21-00128, Italy
2
The BioRobotics Institute, Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna, Polo Sant'Anna Valdera, Viale Rinaldo Piaggio 34, Pontedera (PI) 56025, Italy
3
Center for Integrated Research, Laboratory of Biomedical Robotics and Biomicrosystems, Università Campus Bio-Medico di Roma, Via Álvaro del Portillo, Rome 21-00128, Italy
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 4 July 2014 / Revised: 12 October 2014 / Accepted: 29 October 2014 / Published: 3 November 2014
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Abstract

During the last decades, tactile sensors based on different sensing principles have been developed due to the growing interest in robotics and, mainly, in medical applications. Several technological solutions have been employed to design tactile sensors; in particular, solutions based on microfabrication present several attractive features. Microfabrication technologies allow for developing miniaturized sensors with good performance in terms of metrological properties (e.g., accuracy, sensitivity, low power consumption, and frequency response). Small size and good metrological properties heighten the potential role of tactile sensors in medicine, making them especially attractive to be integrated in smart interfaces and microsurgical tools. This paper provides an overview of microfabricated tactile sensors, focusing on the mean principles of sensing, i.e., piezoresistive, piezoelectric and capacitive sensors. These sensors are employed for measuring contact properties, in particular force and pressure, in three main medical fields, i.e., prosthetics and artificial skin, minimal access surgery and smart interfaces for biomechanical analysis. The working principles and the metrological properties of the most promising tactile, microfabricated sensors are analyzed, together with their application in medicine. Finally, the new emerging technologies in these fields are briefly described. View Full-Text
Keywords: tactile sensors; microfabrication; medicine; prosthetic hands; artificial skin; biomechanical measurements; microsurgery; endoscopy tactile sensors; microfabrication; medicine; prosthetic hands; artificial skin; biomechanical measurements; microsurgery; endoscopy
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Saccomandi, P.; Schena, E.; Oddo, C.M.; Zollo, L.; Silvestri, S.; Guglielmelli, E. Microfabricated Tactile Sensors for Biomedical Applications: A Review. Biosensors 2014, 4, 422-448.

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