Ethan Chung Rose Hills
Uncovering the Physical Properties of Fingerprint Treads Under Dynamic Wet Conditions
This summer, I will be looking into the natural phenomenon of wet-induced fingertip wrinkling and the possible dynamic benefits which could come with implementing and mimicking its main properties in a mechanical system. Similar to how tire treads can improve a cars efficiency and safety on the road during heavy precipitation and how shoe treads help prevent slips, the organic wrinkling found in water-saturated human fingertips can possibly provide analogous effects for a persons grip success with wet objects or underwater scenarios. However, this possible connection has barely been addressed by engineers and doctors, as any type of effective wrinkling pattern is absent in current models of hand prostheses and less than five research papers address the influence of fingertip wrinkling on the mechanics of grasping.Through a systematic series of friction and shear force testing, I hope to gather enough data to determine a set of design guidelines for robotic fingertip skin in wet conditions. This work has the potential to result in innovative hand prostheses, assistive gloves and dexterous robot hands. We could answer the question: do fingertip wrinkles help maintain traction when washing the dishes? If so, a dishwashing robot could employ fingertip treads to improve performance. In addition, the findings of this work could help to illuminate fundamental properties of human skin.