Date

2016

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

Master of Science

Department

Mechanical Engineering

First Adviser

Voloshin, Arkady

Abstract

Living cells respond to the outside physical environment by changing their geometry and location. It is crucial to understand the mechanism of cellular activities, such as cellular movement and utilize cellular properties, such as cellular viscoelasticity by both experimental and computational means. A computational model is developed as a tensegrity structure, which not only consists of the cytoskeleton, but also models the cellular nucleus and lamellipodia. This model is based on the use of the isolated components consisting of a set of continuous compression components and a set of continuous tension components. To investigate the influence of surface topography on cellular movement, some representative cases were designed and simulated. By defining strain energy as a main criterion to estimate the stability of a cell at various locations, the results show that cells have a tendency to move towards and stay on the side wall, and they also have a tendency to leave the concave corner. The simulation results are in agreement with the experimental evidence. In addition, a computational approach to simulate cellular viscoelasticity was also developed. By defining the parameters of the Prony series and based on the 30-members tensegrity structure, this cellular model shows a very similar viscoelastic behavior compared with the experimental data. Thus, the proposed model and approach is a valuable tool for understanding the mechanics of cells.

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