Spatially Dependent Mechanical Properties of Rat Whiskers for Tactile Sensing


A new generation of sensors based on biologically inspired whisking action will help determine the presence and location of solid objects and fluid vortices similar to mechanisms used by whisker bearing animals such as rats and seals. By using nanoindentation, we demonstrate that mechanical properties are essentially uniform by cross section, but vary longitudinally from the whisker base (a 3.9 GPa elastic modulus) to the tip (a 3.1 GPa elastic modulus). Several recent studies show propagation of high frequency information through whiskers that are tuned by their physical properties. In order to fully understand and model these properties, this study demonstrates a more complex whisker structure than previously assumed.

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The financial support for EKH of the National Science Foundation's Division of Materials Research REU program under grant number 0139125 is greatly appreciated.

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Correspondence to E. K. Herzog.

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Herzog, E.K., Bahr, D.F., Richards, C.D. et al. Spatially Dependent Mechanical Properties of Rat Whiskers for Tactile Sensing. MRS Online Proceedings Library 841, R3.6/Y3.6 (2004).

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