All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Joel L Berry

Advisory Committee Members

Derrick Dean

Alan Eberhardt

Ho-Wook Jun

Document Type

Thesis

Date of Award

2012

Degree Name by School

Master of Science in Biomedical Engineering (MSBME) School of Engineering

Abstract

Electrospun biomaterials are gaining popularity as scaffolding for engineered tissues. These fibrous scaffolds of natural or synthetic polymers can mimic the nano-scale properties of the natural extra-cellular matrix. It is becoming clear that the mechanical deformation of any electrospun matrix 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 complex fiber geometry complicates any attempt at quantifying forces exerted on adherent cells during electrospun matrix deformation. In order to quantify the mechanical properties of arrays of individual electrospun fibers in physiological conditions, a novel mechanical test platform has been designed and constructed. To facilitate wet testing, optical strain recording, and cellular substrate testing, the novel device is capable of testing in a cell culture environment and can keep the electrospun fibers within the focal plane of an inverted microscope. To limit the complications arising from the inherent random orientation of electrospun fibers, a method of manually depositing parallel electrospun poly(epsilon-caprolactone) (PCL) fibers was developed in this research. The designed micro-tensile testing platform was used to quantify the mechanical and viscoelastic properties of these parallel electrospun PCL fibers. It has been shown that the novel device can perform direct observations of strain along an electrospun fiber using a non-contact optical strain recording method. The development of a device capable of recording true strain from arrays of individual electrospun fibers is significant in that an understanding of the materials used in designing tissue engineered implants can lead to improved engineered tissue substitutes.

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