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Nondestructive, Label-Free Characterization of Mechanical Microheterogeneity in Biomimetic Materials

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posted on 27.07.2018, 00:00 by Devina Jaiswal, Min D. Tang-Schomer, Disha Sood, David L. Kaplan, Kazunori Hoshino
We propose a novel nondestructive, label-free, mechanical characterization method for composite biomimetic materials. The method combines microscale-force measurement, bright-field microscopy based deformation analysis, and finite-element methods (FEM) to study the heterogeneity in bioengineered composite materials. The method was used to study silk fibroin protein based, donut-shaped scaffolds consisting of a shell (diameter 5 mm) and a core (diameter 2 mm) with a stiff-core or a soft-core configuration. The samples were based on our previously reported bioengineered brain tissue model. Step-wise images of sample deformation were recorded as the automated mechanical stage compressed the sample. The force–compression curves were also recorded with a load cell. A MATLAB program was used to compare and match optically measured strain distribution with that found from the FEM simulations. Iterative processes are used to determine the values that best represent the elastic moduli of the shell and the core regions. The calculated moduli found from the composite models were not significantly different from the values measured separately for each material, demonstrating the efficacy of this new approach. In addition, the method successfully measured multiple distinct regions embedded in a polydimethylsiloxane block. These results demonstrated the feasibility of our method in the microheterogeneity characterization of biomimetic composite structures.