Gordon A. Shaw, Dennis P. McDaniel, John T. Elliott, Alessandro Tona, Anne L. Plant
Thin films of type 1 collagen fibril networks fabricated on alkanethiol-functionalized surfaces have been previously shown to provide an excellent protein matrix for cultured cells in applications such as drug toxicity studies and studies of cell signaling pathways. Cell phenotypic parameters, including cell morphology and rate of proliferation, can depend on the processing conditions used for fabrication of the protein films. The mechanical characteristics of the collagen fibril network appear to be particularly important, and as such, understanding the the mechanical properties of individual fibrils, as well as their interactions with each other and the underlying substrate is critical for assuring a predictable response from cells. In this study, scanning probe microscopy and instrumented indentation are used in conjunction with small force metrology to examine the mechanical properties of these collagen fibrils and fibril networks.