Research  >  Biomimetic approach of tactile perception and Contact mechanics

Biomimetic approach of tactile perception and Contact mechanics

We aim at understanding the mechanical transduction of tactile information in digital human touch. The tactile information, such as the perceived roughness of an object, is obtained upon dynamically rubbing the surface of the object with our fingertips. During this simple task,  one forms an extensive centimetric contact within which the micro-texture distorts the epidermis and the dermis. The induced strains are then converted by subcutaneous mechanical nerve endings into action potentials interpreted by the central nervous system. Prior to any neural coding, the skin thus acts as a mechanical filter whose transfer function characteristics are key ingredients to understand tactile information conditioning. Our approach consists in designing artificial systems biomimetic of the actual tactile organ, and study its mechanical response to controlled stimuli. In addition, this approach allows measurement of subcutaneous constraints while avoiding the difficulties inherent to in vivo measurements.

We are currently extending this approach to the study of tactile perception in rodents who use their facial vibrissae to probe their environment. The biomimetic system consists of a conical elastic rod mounted on a micro-force sensor, and will allow to study how mechanical resonance properties of the organ are involved in the information coding when the vibrissa rubs against surfaces with a controlled topography.

Since these experiments require a good understanding of contact mechanics and friction mechanisms, we also develop a more fundamental activity centered around the imaging of extended elastomer-glass contacts, using both correlation techniques for statistically rough surfaces and PIV techniques for micro-fabricated surfaces.

Related pages

Human digital tactile perception - A biomimetic approach Contact mechanics - Imaging Projects

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N. Claverie , Y. Boubenec, , G. Debrégeas , A. Prevost , E. Wandersman
  URL Full text PDF Bibtex doi:doi: 10.3389/fnbeh.2016.00251


Normal contact and friction of rubber with model randomly rough surfaces - Soft Matter
S. Yashima, , V. Romero , E. Wandersman , C. Frétigny, , M.K. Chaudhury, , A. Chateauminois, , A.M. Prevost
  URL Full text PDF Bibtex doi:10.1039/c4sm02346c