A submillimetric 3-DOF force sensing instrument with integrated fiber bragg grating for retinal microsurgery

Xingchi He, James Handa, Peter Gehlbach, Russell Taylor, Iulian Iordachita

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

95 Scopus citations


Vitreoretinal surgery requires very fine motor control to perform precise manipulation of the delicate tissue in the interior of the eye. Besides physiological hand tremor, fatigue, poor kinesthetic feedback, and patient movement, the absence of force sensing is one of the main technical challenges. Previous two degrees of freedom (DOF) force sensing instruments have demonstrated robust force measuring performance. The main design challenge is to incorporate high sensitivity axial force sensing. This paper reports the development of a submillimetric 3-DOF force sensing pick instrument based on fiber Bragg grating (FBG) sensors. The configuration of the four FBG sensors is arranged to maximize the decoupling between axial and transverse force sensing. A superelastic nitinol flexure is designed to achieve high axial force sensitivity. An automated calibration system was developed for repeatability testing, calibration, and validation. Experimental results demonstrate a FBG sensor repeatability of 1.3 pm. The linear model for calculating the transverse forces provides an accurate global estimate. While the linear model for axial force is only locally accurate within a conical region with a 30° vertex angle, a second-order polynomial model can provide a useful global estimate for axial force. Combining the linear model for transverse forces and nonlinear model for axial force, the 3-DOF force sensing instrument can provide sub-millinewton resolution for axial force and a quarter millinewton for transverse forces. Validation with random samples show the force sensor can provide consistent and accurate measurement of 3-D forces.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number6609063
Pages (from-to)522-534
Number of pages13
JournalIEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2014


  • Bragg gratings
  • force feedback
  • force measurement
  • force sensors
  • surgical instruments

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering


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