Microfluidic tactile sensors for three-dimensional contact force measurements

Baoqing Nie, Ruya Li, James D Brandt, Tingrui Pan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


A microfluidic tactile sensing device has been first reported for three-dimensional contact force measurement utilizing the microfluidic interfacial capacitive sensing (MICS) principle. Consisting of common and differential microfluidic sensing elements and topologically micro-textured surfaces, the microfluidic sensing devices are intended not only to resolve normal mechanical loads but also to measure forces tangent to the surface upon contact. In response to normal or shear loads, the membrane surface deforms the underlying sensing elements uniformly or differentially. The corresponding variation in interfacial capacitance can be detected from each sensing unit, from which the direction and magnitude of the original load can be determined. Benefiting from the highly sensitive and adaptive MICS principle, the microfluidic sensor is capable of detecting normal forces with a device sensitivity of 29.8 nF N-1 in a 7 mm × 7 mm × 0.52 mm package, which is at least a thousand times higher than its solid-state counterparts to our best knowledge. In addition, the microfluidic sensing elements enable facilitated relaxation response/time in the millisecond range (up to 12 ms). To demonstrate the utility and flexibility of the three-dimensional microfluidic sensor, it has been successfully configured into a fingertip-amounted setting for continuous tracing of the fingertip movement and contact force measurement. This journal is

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4344-4353
Number of pages10
JournalLab on a Chip - Miniaturisation for Chemistry and Biology
Issue number22
StatePublished - Nov 21 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Bioengineering
  • Biomedical Engineering


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