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Assessment of Local Heterogeneity in Mechanical Properties of Nanostructured Hydrogel Networks

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† ∥ Department of Biomedical Engineering, Department of Materials Science and Engineering, §Center for Remote Health Technologies and Systems, and Department of Physics and Astronomy, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas 77843, United States
Cite this: ACS Nano 2017, 11, 8, 7690–7696
Publication Date (Web):July 26, 2017
Copyright © 2017 American Chemical Society

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    Our current understanding of the mechanical properties of nanostructured biomaterials is rather limited to invasive/destructive and low-throughput techniques such as atomic force microscopy, optical tweezers, and shear rheology. In this report, we demonstrate the capabilities of recently developed dual Brillouin/Raman spectroscopy to interrogate the mechanical and chemical properties of nanostructured hydrogel networks. The results obtained from Brillouin spectroscopy show an excellent correlation with the conventional uniaxial and shear mechanical testing. Moreover, it is confirmed that, unlike the macroscopic conventional mechanical measurement techniques, Brillouin spectroscopy can provide the elasticity characteristic of biomaterials at a mesoscale length, which is remarkably important for understanding complex cell–biomaterial interactions. The proposed technique experimentally demonstrated the capability of studying biomaterials in their natural environment and may facilitate future fabrication and inspection of biomaterials for various biomedical and biotechnological applications.

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    The Supporting Information is available free of charge on the ACS Publications website at DOI: 10.1021/acsnano.6b08526.

    • Details of the experimental optical setup for Brillouin and Raman spectroscopy and microscopy; additional characterizations of nanostructured hydrogels using Brillouin and Raman, such as time-dependent measurements and correlation between Brillouin spectroscopy and shear rheology (PDF)

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