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Characterizing the Non-linear viscoelastic Material Properties of Fibrous Matrices at Micron Scale



Fibrous network in collagen with neuron at top. Image credit: BIOL2040 Leduc BioImaging facility. 

Characterization of cellular mechanosensing and force generation in 3D fibrillar materials relies on well defined descriptions of a constitutive model for its mechanical behavior at a length scale relevant to cells. Various methods have been utilized for mechanical characterization of collagen in the past: Tensile test, shear tests, confined compression have all been employed to examine both the viscoelasticity and poroelasticity effects at the macroscale. More recently, studies have begun to investigate the actual local microrheology of collagen and fibrin gels. However, we still lack a rigorous 3D constitutive model for collagen which details its time-dependent, large deformation characteristics and its spatial heterogeneity due to the intrinsic architecture. By integrating our 3D imaging and correlation techniques with the development of new experimental platforms, this project aims to develop and design a method for the mechanical characterization of 3D scaffolds like collagen.

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