The ability to characterize the microscale mechanical properties of biological materials has the potential for great utility in the field of tissue engineering. The development and morphogenesis of mammalian tissues are known to be guided in part by mechanical stimuli received from the local environment, and tissues frequently develop to match the physical characteristics (i.e., elasticity) of their environment. Quantification of these material properties at the microscale may provide valuable information to guide researchers. Presented here is a microfluidic platform for the non-destructive ex vivo microscale mechanical characterization of mammalian tissue samples by atomic force microscopy (AFM). The device was designed to physically hold a tissue sample in a dynamically controllable fluid environment while allowing access by an AFM probe operating in force spectroscopy mode to perform mechanical testing. Results of measurements performed on mouse submandibular gland samples demonstrate the ability of the analysis platform to quantify sample elasticity at the microscale, and observe chemically-induced changes in elasticity.
Mosier, Aaron P.; Peters, Sarah B.; Larsen, Melinda; and Cady, Nathaniel C., "Microfluidic Platform for the Elastic Characterization of Mouse Submandibular Glands by Atomic Force Microscopy" (2014). Biological Sciences Faculty Scholarship. 6.