Study of Human Fingertip Friction with Controlled Relative Humidity

Xinyi Li, Cheng Lai, Sitangshu Chatterjee, Yuan Ma, M. Cynthia Hipwell

Research output: Chapter in book / Conference proceedingConference article published in proceeding or bookAcademic researchpeer-review


Understanding the friction mechanisms between human fingertips and contacting surfaces is crucial for haptics and robotics. The presence of condensed water, sweat and sebum can affect the friction between fingertips and contacting surfaces. Previous studies primarily focused on the effects of moist conditions of fingertips or the contacting surface with limited variation with respect to environmental relative humidity. However, the moisture of fingertips can only qualitatively describe the phenomenon. Therefore, relative humidity was designed to be controlled in this paper to better quantify the moist condition and to simulate real-life environments. In this experiment, an environmental chamber
enclosed tribometer was used to measure the fingertip frictional force under relative humidity ranging from 20% to 80%. Experimental results showed that an increasing relative humidity from 30% to 70% leads to an increase in the coefficient of friction. This observation is consistent with our hypothesis on the effect of capillary in friction.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSTLE 2019 Tribology Frontiers Conference
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes


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