Shape memory alloy (SMA) materials, such as Nickel Titanium (NiTi), can generate stress and strain during phase transformation induced by thermomechanical stimulation. Therefore, they may be used to construct active actuating devices for various biomedical applications such as smart surgical tools. Since temperature rise during the operation of SMA devices may damage the surrounding tissue, it is important to thermally shield such devices. We propose to use polydopamine (PDA) as an insulating coating for NiTi-based smart needles. PDA is a biomolecule (dopamine) derived polymer that can form conformal coating on various materials including NiTi. It is hypothesized that the surface temperature of the PDA coated needle can be reduced by the low thermal conductivity of PDA and the thermal resistance of the PDA/NiTi interface. Our experiments conducted in ambient air at room temperature showed that the coating reduced the surface temperature by as much as 45%. In this paper, we will present the thermal insulating performance of the PDA coating on NiTi wires. An experimental setup where the wire is embedded inside a gel phantom/tissue has been developed to simulate needle-tissue interaction. Effects of the coating thickness (material thermal resistance) and the number of layers (interfacial thermal resistance) will be discussed. 2D finite element analyses (FEA) were performed using ABAQUS to investigate the thermal distribution around the coated NiTi wires and the tissue gel phantom. In addition, using thermal distribution, potential tissue damage was assessed.

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