Bioinspired Surface for Surgical Graspers Based on the Strong Wet Friction of Tree Frog Toe Pads

ACS Appl Mater Interfaces. 2015 Jul 1;7(25):13987-95. doi: 10.1021/acsami.5b03039. Epub 2015 Jun 18.


Soft tissue damage is often at risk during the use of a surgical grasper, because of the strong holding force required to prevent slipping of the soft tissue in wet surgical environments. Improvement of wet friction properties at the interface between the surgical grasper and soft tissue can greatly reduce the holding force required and, thus, the soft tissue damage. To design and fabricate a biomimetic microscale surface with strong wet friction, the wet attachment mechanism of tree frog toe pads was investigated by observing their epithelial cell structure and the directionally dependent friction on their toe pads. Using these observations as inspiration, novel surface micropatterns were proposed for the surface of surgical graspers. The wet friction of biomimetic surfaces with various types of polygon pillar patterns involving quadrangular pillars, triangular pillars, rhomboid pillars, and varied hexagonal pillars were tested. The hexagonal pillar pattern exhibited improved wet frictional performance over the modern surgical grasper jaw pattern, which has conventional macroscale teeth. Moreover, the deformation of soft tissue in the bioinspired surgical grasper with a hexagonal pillar pattern is decreased, compared with the conventional surgical grasper.

Keywords: biomimetic surface; low damage; surgical grasper; tree frog; wet friction.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anura / physiology*
  • Biomimetic Materials*
  • Epithelial Cells / cytology
  • Epithelial Cells / physiology
  • Friction / physiology*
  • Surface Properties
  • Surgical Instruments*
  • Toes / physiology*