Tactile imaging of an imbedded palpable structure for breast cancer screening

Chieu Van Nguyen, Ravi F. Saraf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Apart from texture, the human finger can sense palpation. The detection of an imbedded structure is a fine balance between the relative stiffness of the matrix, the object, and the device. If the device is too soft, its high responsiveness will limit the depth to which the imbedded structure can be detected. The sensation of palpation is an effective procedure for a physician to examine irregularities. In a clinical breast examination (CBE), by pressing over 1 cm2 area, at a contact pressure in the 70-90 kPa range, the physician feels cancerous lumps that are 8- to 18-fold stiffer than surrounding tissue. Early detection of a lump in the 5-10 mm range leads to an excellent prognosis. We describe a thin-film tactile device that emulates human touch to quantify CBE by imaging the size and shape of 5-10 mm objects at 20 mm depth in a breast model using80 kPa pressure. The linear response of the device allows quantification where the greyscale corresponds to the relative local stiffness. The (background) signal from <2.5-fold stiffer objects at a size below 2 mm is minimal.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)16368-16374
Number of pages7
JournalACS Applied Materials and Interfaces
Issue number18
StatePublished - Sep 24 2014


  • Breast cancer screening
  • Nanoelectronics
  • Nanoparticle
  • Palpability
  • Tactile sensor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)


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