Transverse mechanical properties of collagen fibers from nanoindentation

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Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics; Department of Physics


The mechanical properties of collagenous tissues, such as tendon and ligaments, are of particular interest as they are found extensively in the human body. In the present study the transverse mechanical properties of collagen fibers are reported for the first time. The elastic modulus was found to be 63 ± 4 MPa, while the viscosity was estimated to be 14 GPa ≤ η ≤ 56 GPa s. Comparison with similar data in the literature, for bulk tendon and collagen fibrils, suggests that the apparent modulus of a network of interconnected building blocks is reduced as compared to the modulus of the individual building blocks; in particular E tendon < E fiber < E fibril; this is due to the fact that as the scale of the microstructure increases (i) slippage and sliding between the respective building blocks (fibrils or fibers) increases, (ii) the volume fraction of the stiff collagen proteins decreases.

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Journal of Materials Science: Materials in Medicine