Mechanics of collagen networks

Collagen networks provide the main structural component of most tissues and represent an important ingredient for bio-mimetic materials for bio-medical applications. CC&B researchers lead by Caterina La Porta and Stefano Zapperi, in collaboration with scientists from Aalto University and the ISI foundation, have studied the mechanical properties of stiff collagen networks derived from three different echinoderms, showing that they exhibit non-linear sti ening followed by brittle fracture. The disordered nature of the network leads to strong sample-to-sample fluctuations in elasticity and fracture strength. Researchers performed numerical simulations of a three dimensional model for the deformation of a cross-linked elastic fibril network which was able to reproduce the macroscopic features of the experimental results and provide insights on the internal mechanics of stiff collagen networks. The numerical model provides an avenue for the design of collagen membranes with tunable mechanical properties.

The paper was published in the Journal of the Mechanical Behaviour of Biomedical Materials
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published on 8/18/2016