3D Biomimetic Tongue-Emulating Surfaces for Tribological Applications

Efren Andablo-Reyes, Michael Bryant, Anne Neville, Paul Hyde, Rik Sarkar, Mathew Francis, Anwesha Sarkar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Oral friction on the tongue surface plays a pivotal role in mechanics of food transport, speech, sensing, and hedonic responses. The highly specialized biophysical features of the human tongue such as micropapillae-dense topology, optimum wettability, and deformability present architectural challenges in designing artificial tongue surfaces, and the absence of such a biomimetic surface impedes the fundamental understanding of tongue-food/fluid interaction. Herein, we fabricate for the first time, a 3D soft biomimetic surface that replicates the topography and wettability of a real human tongue. The 3D-printed fabrication contains a Poisson point process-based (random) papillae distribution and is employed to micromold soft silicone surfaces with wettability modifications. We demonstrate the unprecedented capability of these surfaces to replicate the theoretically defined and simulated collision probability of papillae and to closely resemble the tribological performances of human tongue masks. These de novo biomimetic surfaces pave the way for accurate quantification of mechanical interactions in the soft oral mucosa.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49371-49385
Number of pages15
JournalACS Applied Materials & Interfaces
Issue number44
Early online date26 Oct 2020
Publication statusPublished - 4 Nov 2020


  • Animals
  • Biomimetic Materials/chemistry
  • Humans
  • Lubrication
  • Particle Size
  • Printing, Three-Dimensional
  • Silicones/chemistry
  • Surface Properties
  • Swine
  • Tongue/chemistry
  • Wettability


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