This paper reports on a proof-of-concept study of applying a two-dimensional (2D) microfluidic-based tactile sensor for tissue palpation under the influence of misalignment. Two unavoidable misalignment issues, uncertainty in contact point and non-ideal normal contact, severely distort the genuine elasticity distribution of a tissue region, yielding false identification of abnormality. The core of the 2D tactile sensor is one whole microstructure embedded with an electrolyte-enabled 2D resistive transducer array underneath. This unique configuration allows the tactile sensor to interact with a tissue region in a continuous manner that mimics manual palpation: the whole microstructure (fingertip) presses a tissue region and the corresponding deflection distribution is captured concurrently by the embedded transducer array (distributed sensors under the skin). This continuous manner tackles the misalignment issues encountered by an individual sensor or a sensor array, in that any misalignment encountered by the 2D sensor is manifested as an increasing trend of the distributed deflection-depth relations along the tilt direction. Tissue phantoms with embedded nodules and extrusions are prepared and are measured using the 2D tactile sensor, validating the capability of the tactile sensor to identify abnormalities in soft tissue under the influence of misalignment.

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