Sensors could give surgeons fine touch

Aug. 13, 2012 at 8:53 PM
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CHAMPAIGN, Ill., Aug. 13 (UPI) -- U.S. researchers say they've developed a flexible electronic circuit that can be worn on fingertips, possibly giving surgeons a precise touch as they operate.

Scientists at the University of Illinois say the sensor utilizes gold electrodes just a few nanometers thick encased in a "nanomembrane" on a finger-shaped tube of silicone rubber that puts one side of the circuit in contact with the wearer's fingertips, reported.

The wearer receives electrotactile stimulation from the sensor, a tingling sensation caused by a small voltage applied to the skin, they said.

Surgical gloves are one potential application, UI researcher John Rogers said, as gloves fitted with the nanomembrane could sense the thickness or composition of tissue via its electrical properties.

A surgeon could also remove tissue using a high-frequency alternating current supplied by a battery attached at the wrist and delivered via the nanomembrane itself, Rogers said.

Rogers worked on the technology with colleagues at Northwestern University and Dalian University of Technology in China.

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