UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Electrothermally Driven Hydrogel-on-Flex-Circuit Actuator for Smart Steerable Catheters Selvaraj, Madeshwaran; Takahata, Kenichi


This paper reports an active catheter-tip device functionalized by integrating a temperature-responsive smart polymer onto a microfabricated flexible heater strip, targeting at enabling the controlled steering of catheters through complex vascular networks. A bimorph-like strip structure is enabled by photo-polymerizing a layer of poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) hydrogel (PNIPAM), on top of a 20 x 3.5 mm² flexible polyimide film that embeds a micropatterned heater fabricated using a low-cost flex-circuit manufacturing process. The heater activation stimulates the PNIPAM layer to shrink and bend the tip structure. The bending angle is shown to be adjustable with the amount of power fed to the device, proving the device’s feasibility to provide the integrated catheter with a controlled steering ability for a wide range of navigation angles. The powered device exhibits uniform heat distribution across the entire PNIPAM layer, with a temperature variation of

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