Applications of indentation in biology and biomedical domain

Characterization of mechanical properties of biomedical and biological materials is an important part of their development. For many biomaterials, mechanical properties have to be studied very locally or in relatively small areas. Furthermore, the pre-clinical research is very often done on small animal models such as rats or mice. The measurement techniques must therefore be sufficiently local so that even such small samples can be tested. The nanoindentation technique, introduced to biomedicine in the last years, is especially suitable for this type of characterization. This application report shows some applications of nanoindentation for testing of bone, teeth and contact lenses.

Introduction

In the last several decades, characterization of the mechanical properties of biomaterials and other biomedical or biological materials has become an important phase in their development. Researchers and engineers were interested in knowing the mechanical properties of both biological materials (soft and hard tissues, bones, tendons, cartilage, teeth, etc.) and artificial (man-made) biomaterials (implants, stents, resolvable sutures, scaffolds, etc.). Knowing the mechanical properties of biological materials such as tissues and organs is necessary for development of new materials and tissues in the human body as well as for assessment of the effects of different medical treatments.

In many of these applications, the mechanical properties have to be studied very locally, within relatively small regions. Furthermore, the pre-clinical research is very often done on small animal models such as rats or mice. The measurement techniques must therefore be sufficiently local so that even such small samples can be easily tested.

This application report summarizes the use of instrumented indentation for characterization of biomaterials, bio-inspired materials and biological materials. Other application reports will focus on scratch testing (adhesion and scratch resistance) and tribology testing (coefficient of friction and wear.

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