Available technologies, Electrical and Electronic components, Engineering, Medical devices, Medical Hardware, Medical Software, Optical devices


A solution to address the clinical need for stiffness display during manual and robotic minimally invasive surgery

Challenge in tactile displays for surgery applications 

  • Minimally invasive surgery (MIS) is a surgical approach during which long, and often flexible, surgical instruments are inserted and maneuvered inside a patient’s body
  • In contrast to the open approach, the surgeon cannot directly touch an internal organ or tissue in this approach. Therefore, the surgeon’s tactile perception is based on limited tactile cues transferred through the hand-held instruments
  • Robotic MIS systems consist of a master (console) and slave (robot) units. Surgeon controls maneuvers of the instruments at the slave unit through remote controls on the master unit
  • Tactile information is crucial for surgeons for accurate diagnosis and effective treatment. To alleviate this problem, tactile displays have been proposed
  • Tactile displays are a medium with controllable bulk (stiffness and volume) and surface properties (roughness and texture)
  • The utilization of magnetorheological elastomers (MRE) for tactile displays has not been yet exploited

New design/method for magnetorheological elastomers (MREs)-based tactile display

  • The invention is a tactile display based on magnetorheological elastomers (MREs), which are a class of smart materials with controllable mechanical properties
  • MREs are composed of an elastomer matrix with dispersed ferromagnetic iron particles. Upon application of an external magnetic field, iron particles align with the field while attached to the elastomeric matrix
  • The extent of particle aligning with the field depends on the volume fraction of particles, their intrinsic magnetism, and the strength of the magnetic field
  • Two permanent magnets were used to generate a homogeneous magnetic field
  • Technology developed by Prof. Javad Dargahi, Amir Hooshiar and Ali Alkhalaf (Mechanical, Industrial and Aerospace Engineering, Concordia University)

Competitive advantages 

  • Mechanical properties of the MREs could be controlled through controlling the applied magnetic field
  • MREs have the highest compliance with the functional requirements of tactile displays for minimally invasive and robotic surgery
  • Compared to different modalities for tactile display like (DC-motor, Pneumatic balloons, electro-active polymers, Shape-memory-alloys and MR-fluids), MREs are a well-suited candidate for the tactile display application
  • Compared to the use of coils for generating a magnetic field, our design provides more stability and less sensitivity to the thermal effects
  • MREs are fast in adaptation to the external magnetic field for real-time applications

Market applications 

  • Medical applications: Surgery simulators, minimally invasive surgeries (MIS), robotic MIS and teleoperation for different biological organs
  • Non-medical applications: Virtual reality world in which players can feel the softness of the objects they are playing with using the controller and video games

Business opportunity

  • Technology available for licensing
  • Provisional patent application filed


If you are interested by this technology, please contact :
Duc LeVan, Director Business Development, Engineering
dlevan@aligo.ca,  (514) 840-1226, Ext. 3003


Concordia University

Main inventors


Javad Dargahi, Professor

Prof. Dargahi received the B.S. and M.S. degrees in mechanical engineering from the University of Paisley, Paisley, U.K., and the Ph.D. degree in robotic tactile sensing from Glasgow Caledonian University, Glasgow, U.K., in 1993. In 2001, he joined Pega Medical Company, Montreal, QC, Canada and he joined the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, Concordia University, as an Assistant Professor, where he was promoted to Associate Professor in 2006 and a Full Professor in 2011. His research area includes the design and development of haptic and tactile systems for minimally invasive surgery, robotics, and micro-manufacturing of sensors and actuators. He has co-authored three books in the scope of mechatronics and tactile sensing and has published more than 150 peer-reviewed articles

External links

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