Estimation of the modulation of friction from the mechanical impedance variations

Nicolas Huloux, Corentin Bernard, Michael Wiertlewski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Ultrasonic surface-haptic touchscreens produce compelling tactile sensations directly on the users' fingertips. The tactile sensations stem from the modulation of friction produced by acoustic radiation pressure, which reduces the contact between the skin and the glass plate. During this process, some of the vibrations are partly absorbed by the tissues, resulting in a conspicuous change in the vibration amplitude of the plate upon contact with the finger, which manifests as a net change in the system mechanical impedance. In this study, we leverage the observable change of impedance to estimate the acoustic levitation and the frictional force. The self-sensing method utilizes a model of the first principles governing the physical interaction between the plate and the skin, which relies on multi-scale contact theory. The model accurately describes the experimental influence of the amplitude on the observed impedance (i.e., the amount of energy absorbed and reflected) and can be used to estimate the friction coefficient (R2=0.93). These results provide additional evidence of the partial levitation mechanism at play in ultrasonic friction-modulation. This finding can be useful for designing energy-efficient devices and provide design suggestions for using ultrasonic impedance for self-sensing friction forces.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages12
JournalIEEE Transactions on Haptics
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2020


  • Acoustics
  • Biomechanics
  • Force
  • Friction
  • Impedance
  • Levitation
  • Skin
  • Squeeze-film
  • Surface haptics
  • Tactile devices
  • Ultrasonic friction-modulation
  • Vibrations

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