Darren Alvares

Bachelor of Engineering in Biomedical Engineering

BE(Hons) University of Auckland

Masters of Engineering in Biomedical Engineering

ME(Hons)- University of Auckland




Professor Nigel Lovell

Thesis Title

Polymer electronics for tactile sensing

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Research Abstract

The sense of touch is an essential component in manipulative and exploratory tasks in all living things. For instance, in humans, even a momentary loss of sensations in the fingers due to the cold makes a simple task like the buttoning of a shirt gruelling.  In animals, whiskers form integral tools for survival allowing navigation,social behaviours and prey catching. Despite indications of the importance of tactile feedback, state of the art robotic systems lack the ability to perform various tasks. In robotic systems, dexterous manipulation of objects is still not apparent due to the lack of appropriate sensing. Similarly in minimally invasive surgery, distinguishing tumours from healthy tissue using surgical instruments is not realized. This requires high density sensor arrays mounted on precision tools like catheters and needles. It is evident that there is a need for integrated sensors that are sensitive, responsive and highly dense on flexible substrates.

Our solution is to aim to mimic this property using existing polymer materials for sensing and amplification. This is due to their inherent flexibility and ability to be fabricated via simple procedures. We will combine organic transistors, nanoparticle smart materials and various patternable polymers.

This research aims to develop novel device architectures for artificial skin using low cost fabrication techniques like inkjet printing and soft lithography.

Papers & publications

  1. Alvares. D, et al. (2012) An evaluation study of nanoparticle films as biomimetic tactile sensors. Sensors and Actuators A: Physical (In Press)

Conferences Attended/ presented

  1. Alvares.D,Prevot. P (2010). Inkjet Printed Organic Transistors for Integrated Biomedical Sensors 19th Congress of the Australian Institute of Physics,Melbourne.
  2. Alvares. D,Wieczorek. L, et al. (2011). Ink-Jet Printed Nanoparticle Films for a Biomimetic Tactile Sensor. CSIRO Symposium on Nanomaterial-Based Sensors for Biomedical Applications, North Ryde, Sydney.
  3. Alvares. D,Wieczorek. L, et al. (2011). Nanoparticle Films as Biomimetic Tactile Sensors. Eurosensor XXV Conference, Athens Greece, Elsevier Procedia Engineering.


The Prime Minister's Program of Education Assistance for Japan Award.

CSIRO Top Up Scholarship.