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Master of Engineering Science


Biomedical Engineering


Dr. Wankei Wan


The Tympanic Membrane (TM), also known as the eardrum, includes layers of organized collagen nanofibres which play an essential role in sound transmission. Perforations that are caused by infection or accident must be repaired in order to restore hearing. Tympanoplasty is performed using grafts that are prepared from bladder, cartilage, temporal fascia and cadaveric skin. However, since mechanical properties of these grafts do not match those of the original TM, normal hearing is not fully restored. The goal of this study is to develop nanofibrous scaffolds for tissue engineering of the TM in order to circumvent the complications addressed with the conventional grafts. Mechanical properties of scaffolds greatly influence cellular behaviour, since cells can sense and respond to the stiffness of their substrate. In this study we investigated the Young’s modulus of single poly(caprolactone) (PCL) nanofibres as well as the moduli of as-spun and genipin-cross-linked collagen type I nanofibres using multi-point bending test with atomic force microscope (AFM). The effect of shear and tension on bending behaviour of fibres was investigated using four different analytical models. The Young’s modulus of electrospun PCL fibres (100 d 400 nm) was obtained with a mean value of 0.48 0.03 GPa. For as-spun and genipin-cross-linked collagen nanofibres a range of 1.66 – 13.9 GPa and 8.22 – 40.1 GPa were found for their Young’s moduli, respectively. The results indicate that there is a great potential for electrospun PCL and collagen nanofibres to be successfully applied in tissue engineering scaffolds because of their promising mechanical properties and biocompatibility.

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