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Nature-inspired pressure sensing technology aims to transform healthcare and surgical robots

NUS researchers take a leaf out of nature’s book to develop ‘eAir’ — an aero-elastic sensor that revolutionises how pressure is detected

SINGAPORE, Aug. 18, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Researchers at the National University of Singapore (NUS) have developed a novel aero-elastic pressure sensor, called ‘eAir’. This technology can be applied to minimally-invasive surgeries and implantable sensors by directly addressing the challenges associated with existing pressure sensors.

The eAir sensor promises increased precision and reliability across medical applications. It can potentially transform laparoscopic surgeries by enabling tactile feedback for surgeons, allowing more precise manipulation of patient tissues. In addition, the sensor can improve patient experiences by offering a less invasive means of monitoring intracranial pressure (ICP).

Led by Associate Professor Benjamin TEE from the NUS College of Design and Engineering and NUS Institute for Health Innovation & Technology, the team’s findings were recently published in scientific journal Nature Materials on 17 August 2023.

From lotus leaf to laboratory: Harnessing nature’s design

Conventional pressure sensors frequently struggle with accuracy. They have trouble delivering consistent readings, often returning varying results when the same pressure is applied repeatedly and can overlook subtle changes in pressure — all of which can lead to significant errors. They are also typically made from stiff and mechanically inflexible materials.

To address these challenges in pressure sensing, the NUS team drew inspiration from a phenomenon known as the ‘lotus leaf effect’ — a unique natural phenomenon where water droplets effortlessly roll off the leaf’s surface, made possible by its minuscule, water-repelling structures. Mimicking this effect, the team has engineered a pressure sensor designed to significantly improve the sensing performance.

“The sensor, akin to a miniature ‘capacity meter’, can detect minute pressure changes — mirroring the sensitivity of a lotus leaf to the extremely light touch of a water droplet,” explained Assoc Prof Tee.

The eAir devices can be made relatively small – at a few millimetres in size.

Applications

This novel technology has wide-ranging applications. For instance, in laparoscopic surgeries where precise tactile feedback is indispensable, incorporating eAir sensors could lead to safer surgical procedures, ultimately enhancing patient recovery and prognosis.

eAir could also improve the process of monitoring ICP. This minimally invasive solution could transform patient experiences in the management of brain-related conditions.

Read more at: https://news.nus.edu.sg/nature-inspired-pressure-sensing-technology/

Logo – https://mma.prnewswire.com/media/291548/national_university_of_singapore_logo.jpg  

SOURCE National University of Singapore

Originally published at https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/nature-inspired-pressure-sensing-technology-aims-to-transform-healthcare-and-surgical-robots-301904560.html
Images courtesy of https://pixabay.com

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