Advanced Science (Aug 2021)

Toward Mechanochromic Soft Material‐Based Visual Feedback for Electronics‐Free Surgical Effectors

  • Goffredo Giordano,
  • Mariacristina Gagliardi,
  • Yu Huan,
  • Marco Carlotti,
  • Andrea Mariani,
  • Arianna Menciassi,
  • Edoardo Sinibaldi,
  • Barbara Mazzolai

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 8, no. 15
pp. n/a – n/a


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Abstract A chromogenically reversible, mechanochromic pressure sensor is integrated into a mininvasive surgical grasper compatible with the da Vinci robotic surgical system. The sensorized effector, also featuring two soft‐material jaws, encompasses a mechanochromic polymeric inset doped with functionalized spiropyran (SP) molecule, designed to activate mechanochromism at a chosen pressure and providing a reversible color change. Considering such tools are systematically in the visual field of the operator during surgery, color change of the mechanochromic effector can help avoid tissue damage. No electronics is required to control the devised visual feedback. SP‐doping of polydimethylsiloxane (2.5:1 prepolymer/curing agent weight ratio) permits to modulate the mechanochromic activation pressure, with lower values around 1.17 MPa for a 2% wt. SP concentration, leading to a shorter chromogenic recovery time of 150 s at room temperature (25 °C) under green light illumination. Nearly three‐times shorter recovery time is observed at body temperature (37 °C). To the best of knowledge, this study provides the first demonstration of mechanochromic materials in surgery, in particular to sensorize unpowered surgical effectors, by avoiding dramatic increases in tool complexity due to additional electronics, thus fostering their application. The proposed sensing strategy can be extended to further tools and scopes.