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Elastic/Viscoelastic Characterization of Soft Polymer Materials

Polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) is an important polymeric material widely used in BioMEMS. However, PDMS is an inherently viscoelastic material and its elastic modulus changes with loading rates and elapsed time. This work demonstrates a comprehensive method for the viscoelastic characterization, modeling, and analysis associated with the bending behavior of the PDMS micropillar arrays, providing a more in-depth and physically accurate conversion model for force measurement applications. The scientific insights from the in-depth study of the viscoelasticity of PDMS will contribute to the analysis of many other soft polymer materials at micro/nano scales commonly used in biomedical research. Our vision is to expand our capacity to probe soft polymer materials at small scales by developing both new theoretical models and experimental methodologies. These characterization techniques and platforms will allow scientists to ask profound and previously intractable questions, and to obtain quantitative empirical answers with resolution sufficient for biomedical research.

Representative Publications (#denotes graduate students/postdocs supervised by X. Zhang; *denotes corresponding author by X. Zhang; +denotes contributed equally.)

P. Du#, X. Lin, and X. Zhang*, "Tunable Electrical and Mechanical Responses of PDMS and Polypyrrole Nanowire Composites," Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics, 2013, 46(19): 195303(8pp). [DOI]

P. Du#, C. Chen, H. Lu, and X. Zhang*, "Investigation of Cellular Contraction Forces in the Frequency Domain Using a PDMS Micropillar-Based Force Transducer," Journal of Microelectromechanical Systems, 2013, 22(1): 44-53. [DOI]

P. Du#, X. Zheng#, I-K Lin#, and X. Zhang*, "Effect of Loading Rates on Cellular Force Measurements by Polymer Micropillar based Transducers," Applied Physics Letters, 2011, 99(8): 083701(3pp). [DOI]

P. Du#, I-K Lin#, H. Lu, and X. Zhang*, "Extension of the Beam Theory for Polymer Bio-Transducers with Low Aspect Ratios and Viscoelastic Characteristics," Journal of Micromechanics and Microengineering, 2010, 20(9): 095016(13pp). [DOI]

I-K Lin#, K-S Ou, Y-M Liao, Y. Liu#, K-S Chen, and X. Zhang*, "Viscoelastic Characterization and Modeling of Polymer Transducers for Biological Applications," Journal of Microelectromechanical Systems, 2009, 18(5): 1087-1099. [DOI]

I-K Lin#, Y-M Liao, Y. Liu#, K-S Ou, K-S Chen, and X. Zhang*, "Viscoelastic Mechanical Behavior of Soft Microcantilever-Based Force Sensors," Applied Physics Letters, 2008, 93(25): 251907(3pp). [DOI]

Ph.D. Dissertation

Ping Du, "Viscoelastic Characterization and Modeling of PDMS Micropillars for Cellular Force Measurement Applications," Ph.D. Dissertation, Boston University. (Advisor: Xin Zhang; January 2013)

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