Secure and Gentle Grip of Delicate Biological Tissues
In current laparoscopic surgery, surgeons rely on mechanical tools (e.g. pincers and graspers) to handle the patient’s organs. These tools can exert mechanical stresses on the organ, which can lead to tissue damage. An alternative solution is required, which might be found by biomimetics, an interdisciplinary approach of learning from nature to solve technological problems.
Inspiration on how to gently grip wet, soft tissues might be found in tree frogs: These animals have very soft toe pads, with which they can adhere to smooth and rough, dry and wet surfaces. The remarkable attachment performance of tree frogs makes them a fascinating model for the development of novel, biomimetic surgical tools. On the way to a better understanding of the fundamental mechanisms of the remarkable tree frog attachment, we follow an integrative approach and employ methods such as morphological characterisation (e.g. toe pad histology), behavioural and biomechanical experiments (e.g. contact force measurements and high-speed-imaging of the contact) as well as numerical approaches (Finite element analysis).
Our collaborators are: Dr. Dimitra Dodou and Prof.dr.ir. Paul Breedveld (Department of BioMechanical Engineering, Delft University of Technology (TU-Delft), The Netherlands), Dr. Marleen Kamperman and Dr Mieke Kleijn (Physical Chemistry and Soft Matter, Wageningen University), and Dr W. Jon P. Barnes (Institute of Molecular, Cell and Systems Biology, University of Glasgow, UK).
This work is part of the research programme “Secure and gentle grip of delicate biological tissues” with project number 13353, which is (partly) financed by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO).