Graduate Student Awards
SM4: A Soft Future—From Electronic Skin to Robotics and Energy Harvesting

SM4: A Soft Future—From Electronic Skin to Robotics and Energy Harvesting

Mark Rentschler, University of Colorado, Boulder

Micro-Patterned Materials to Enable In Vivo Robotic Capsule Endoscope Locomotion

Written by Akshay Phadnis

Mark Rentschler of the University of Colorado, Boulder uses inspiration from the adhesive quality of insect feet to develop a micro-patterned maneuverable device for robotic capsule endoscopy. The right texture of the contact surface helps achieve just enough traction and minimum adhesion to the soft tissues in the intestine and these micro-textured surfaces paint a promising picture. The tractive and adhesive properties of these surfaces are studied using the automated traction measurement (ATM) device and are measured by work of separation and work of adhesion, respectively. This device facilitates the testing of diverse types of substrates and microstructures to quantify their tractive and adhesive characteristics; the impact of different slip ratios, contact force, and speeds can also be studied. A finite element model is developed to compensate for the inabilities offered by the ATM (such as applying correction factor). The results from experiments and from the validated FE model show that micro-patterned surfaces decrease the work of adhesion and separation significantly. Potential application for automated surgery can be the shape memory alloy endoscope, the wheeler robotic capsule and the robotic endoscope platform where these micro-patterned surfaces will be of great help. 

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