Technical Briefs

A Novel Device to Quantify the Mechanical Properties of Electrospun Nanofibers

[+] Author and Article Information
Timothy J. Fee

 Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL 35294timfee@uab.edu

Derrick R. Dean

 Department of Materials Science and Engineering, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL 35294deand@uab.edu

Alan W. Eberhardt

 Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL 35294aeberhar@uab.edu

Joel L. Berry1

 Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL 35294jlberry@uab.edu


Corresponding author.

J Biomech Eng 134(10), 104503 (Oct 01, 2012) (5 pages) doi:10.1115/1.4007635 History: Received May 21, 2012; Revised June 18, 2012; Posted September 25, 2012; Published October 01, 2012; Online October 01, 2012

Mechanical deformation of cell-seeded electrospun matrices plays an important role in cell signaling. However, electrospun biomaterials have inherently complex geometries due to the random deposition of fibers during the electrospinning process. This confounds attempts at quantifying strains exerted on adherent cells during electrospun matrix deformation. We have developed a novel mechanical test platform that allows deposition and tensile testing of electrospun fibers in a highly parallel arrangement to simplify mechanical analysis of the fibers alone and with adherent cells. The device is capable of optically recording fiber strain in a cell culture environment. Here we report on the mechanical and viscoelastic properties of highly parallel electrospun poly(ε-caprolactone) fibers. Force-strain data derived from this device will drive the development of cellular mechanotransduction studies as well as the customization of electrospun matrices for specific engineered tissue applications.

Copyright © 2012 by American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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Figure 1

(A) A single electrospun fiber suspended between the tines of a fork ready to be manually deposited in a parallel array. The scale bar is 3 mm. (B) Micrograph of an array of parallel electrospun nanofibers, the scale bar is 200 microns.

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Figure 2

Image of the novel microtensile testing platform on the stage of an inverted microscope. The primary components of the device are identified.

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Figure 3

Scanning electron microscope image of parallel electrospun PCL nanofibers. The scale bar is 20 microns. A table summarizing the distribution of fiber diameters is provided at the right.

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Figure 4

Differential scanning calorimetry of electrospun PCL. The data indicate that the PCL used for this study had a crystallinity of 53.7%.

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Figure 5

Fluorescent micrograph showing two electrospun PCL nanofibers with fluorescent strain markers adhered along the length of the fiber

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Figure 6

(A) Graph showing a representative load-strain response of the highly-aligned PCL fibers. The true strain plotted on the horizontal axis was determined optically. (B) A representative plot of the load-strain properties of a single electrospun PCL nanofiber in uniaxial tension.

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Figure 7

Stress relaxation test of highly-aligned PCL fibers. The viscoelastic response of the fibers was modeled using the two-term Prony series described in the table at the right.




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