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Spherical nanoindentation of polyacrylamide hydrogels by the Bioindenter

Hydrogels are very compliant materials suitable for tissue engineering in various areas of biological and clinical research. Appropriate and effective application of hydrogels for specific cellular regeneration often requires precise knowledge of their mechanical properties. The present application report focuses on the measurements of mechanical deformation and creep properties of polyacrylamide hydrogels using the Anton Paar Bioindenter. Four concentrations of polyacrylamide gel were tested under four different loading rates to study the mechanical response of the material. This work contributes to the understanding the results of instrumented indentation of extremely compliant materials with respect to their viscoelastic properties.

Introduction

Hydrogels are extremely soft materials with high liquid content that have recently been used in various areas of biological and clinical research, e.g. from osteoporosis through tissue regeneration to hemorrhage control. Many hydrogels are considered as potential candidates for replacement or regeneration of many types of tissues or as growth substrates for other soft tissues in human body. Appropriate and effective application of hydrogels for specific cellular regeneration, growth and tissue replacement requires deep knowledge of their mechanical properties. For example, the structure and the mechanical properties of the growth substrate can act as a biomechanical modulator of cellular behavior and hence determine the function and quality of the growing cell. It has also been found that the elasticity of the hydrogel substrate can significantly influence the homeostasis of tissues, which is crucial for efficient tissue regeneration.

Measurement of elastic – and in general term mechanical – properties of hydrogels used in biomedicine is therefore extremely important.

This application report presents the results of measurements of mechanical and creep properties of several types of soft polyacrylamide hydrogels using a novel nanoindentation device for bioindentation called Bioindenter.

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