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Needle-shaped ultrathin piezoelectric microsystem for guided tissue targeting via mechanical sensing

Nature Biomedical Engineeringvolume 2pages165172 (2018) | Download Citation


Needles for percutaneous biopsies of tumour tissue can be guided by ultrasound or computed tomography. However, despite best imaging practices and operator experience, high rates of inadequate tissue sampling, especially for small lesions, are common. Here, we introduce a needle-shaped ultrathin piezoelectric microsystem that can be injected or mounted directly onto conventional biopsy needles and used to distinguish abnormal tissue during the capture of biopsy samples, through quantitative real-time measurements of variations in tissue modulus. Using well-characterized synthetic soft materials, explanted tissues and animal models, we establish experimentally and theoretically the fundamental operating principles of the microsystem, as well as key considerations in materials choices and device designs. Through systematic tests on human livers with cancerous lesions, we demonstrate that the piezoelectric microsystem provides quantitative agreement with magnetic resonance elastography, the clinical gold standard for the measurement of tissue modulus. The piezoelectric microsystem provides a foundation for the design of tools for the rapid, modulus-based characterization of tissues.

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This work was supported by the Center for Bio-Integrated Electronics. R.O. acknowledges National Institutes of Health grants R01HL137193, R01EB24403, R21EB021148 and R03CA172738, and Mayo Clinic. R.S. acknowledges support from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (grant number EP/L016028/1) and China Scholarship Council. L.T. acknowledges support from a Beckman Institute postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Y.H. acknowledges support from the National Science Foundation (grant numbers 1400169, 1534120 and 1635443) and National Institutes of Health (grant number R01EB019337). The authors acknowledge N. Pallace (Media Support Services at Mayo Clinic) for expert photography during the experiments.

Author information

Author notes

  1. These authors contributed equally: Xinge Yu, Heling Wang and Xin Ning.


  1. Simpson Querrey Center and Feinberg School of Medicine, Center for Bio-Integrated Electronics, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, USA

    • Xinge Yu
    •  & John A. Rogers
  2. Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Frederick Seitz Materials Research Laboratory, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL, USA

    • Xinge Yu
    • , Xin Ning
    • , Rujie Sun
    • , Yang Yu
    • , Limei Tian
    • , Chan Mi Lee
    • , Aditya Chempakasseril
    • , Peilin Tian
    •  & John A. Rogers
  3. Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, USA

    • Heling Wang
    • , Jianghong Yuan
    •  & Yonggang Huang
  4. Department of Mechanical Engineering, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, USA

    • Heling Wang
    • , Jianghong Yuan
    •  & Yonggang Huang
  5. Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, USA

    • Heling Wang
    • , Jianghong Yuan
    • , Yonggang Huang
    •  & John A. Rogers
  6. Advanced Composites Centre for Innovation and Science, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK

    • Rujie Sun
  7. Division of Vascular and Interventional Radiology, Minimally Invasive Therapeutics Laboratory, Mayo Clinic, Phoenix, AZ, USA

    • Hassan Albadawi
    •  & Rahmi Oklu
  8. Department of Pathology, Mayo Clinic, Phoenix, AZ, USA

    • Marcela Salomao
  9. Division of Abdominal Imaging, Mayo Clinic, Phoenix, AZ, USA

    • Alvin C. Silva
  10. Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China

    • Yang Yu
  11. Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL, USA

    • Limei Tian
  12. Department of Biomedical Engineering, Binghamton University, Binghamton, NY, USA

    • Ahyeon Koh
  13. Department of Mechanical Engineering, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX, USA

    • Matt Pharr
  14. Center for Mechanics and Materials, and Applied Mechanics Laboratory, Department of Engineering Mechanics, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China

    • Jianghong Yuan
  15. Department of Biomedical Engineering, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, USA

    • John A. Rogers
  16. Department of Neurological Surgery, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, USA

    • John A. Rogers
  17. Department of Chemistry, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, USA

    • John A. Rogers
  18. Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, USA

    • John A. Rogers


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X.Y., H.W., X.N., Y.H., R.O. and J.A.R. designed the experiment and wrote the manuscript. X.Y., H.W., X.N., R.S., M.S., H.A., Y.Y., A.K., C.M.L., A.C.S., P.T. and R.O. performed the experiments and analysed the experimental data. H.W. led the structural designs and mechanics modelling, with assistance from J.Y. L.T. and M.P. contributed to the analysis of the experimental results.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Yonggang Huang or Rahmi Oklu or John A. Rogers.

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