An Empirical Approach for the Determination of Skin Elasticity: Finger pad Friction against Textured Surfaces

D.A. Sergachev*, D.T.A. Matthews, E. van der Heide

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    13 Citations (Scopus)
    54 Downloads (Pure)


    Surface topography significantly influences tactile friction and perception. While friction forces can be reduced by surface texturing, selection of pattern dimensions is challenging due to the highly variable elastic modulus of the skin. This work proposes an empirical approach for the evaluation of the skin elasticity through surface transition from asperity to full contact state. To highlight the contact transition, two textures with evenly distributed identical micro asperities, but varying density, were moulded with several grades of silicone rubber. Dynamic friction coefficient measurements were performed during finger pad sliding against the textured samples with a range of normal loads up to 5 N. A combination of analytical and numerical contact models is used to explain the observed friction behaviour, estimate the development of contact area and calculate the effective elastic modulus of the skin at the micro-scale. Low density textures clearly indicate the transition to the full contact state, which is reflected in friction coefficient development, while high density textures remain in an asperity contact state, with significantly lower friction values. The effective Young's modulus is hereby estimated in the range of 0.2–0.5 MPa. Observed frictional behaviour is explained by the change in the apparent and real contact areas. The presented approach allows to study the influence of individual surface parameters on effective skin elastic modulus, which is essential for the development of functional surfaces with improved tactile perception.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number100097
    Early online date11 May 2019
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2019


    • Skin tribology
    • Surface texture
    • Tactile friction
    • Young's modulus
    • 22/4 OA procedure


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