Dynamic elastography methods attempt to quantitatively map soft tissue viscoelastic properties. Application to the fingertip, relevant to medical diagnostics and to improving tactile interfaces, is a novel and challenging application, given the small target size. In this feasibility study, an annular actuator placed on the surface of the fingertip and driven harmonically at multiple frequencies sequentially creates geometrically focused surface (GFS) waves. These surface wave propagation patterns are measured using scanning laser Doppler vibrometry. Reconstruction (the inverse problem) is performed in order to estimate fingertip soft tissue viscoelastic properties. The study identifies limitations of an analytical approach and introduces an optimization approach that utilizes a finite element (FE) model. Measurement at multiple frequencies reveals limitations of an assumption of homogeneity of material properties. Identified shear viscoelastic properties increase significantly as frequency increases and the depth of penetration of the surface wave is reduced, indicating that the fingertip is significantly stiffer near its surface.

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