The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Cavitation Rheology for Measuring Local Mechanical Properties in Biologically Relevant Soft Materials

Alfred J. Crosby, Ph.D.
Measuring the mechanical properties of a complex biological tissue is crucial to developing knowledge about its physiology. Determining these physical properties in vivo is essential to innovation in tissue engineering, as well as to investigating the effects of aging and disease. Due to the heterogeneous structure of complex tissues, localized testing is necessary since probing surface properties only provides an incomplete picture of a tissue’s mechanical properties. Cavitation Rheology Technique (CRT), a novel methodology that originated in Dr. Alfred J. Crosby’s lab, succeeds where traditional techniques fall short. CRT involves measuring the pressure to induce cavitation at the tip of a needle within a soft material. This pressure is quantitatively related to the local modulus of the material. This allows for localized testing of non-transparent materials and tissues. Furthermore, CRT adopts a simple device and system design and requires only minimal amounts of sample material and testing time. This technique has been successfully demonstrated in a broad range of synthetic hydrogels and natural tissues, and can be applied in vivo.

  • Widely applicable and versatile: CRT does not rely on optical tracking or require materials being isotropic, enabling measurements of local modulus in transparent or non-transparent soft materials, natural or synthetic tissues, in different layers, or along a gradient, of a structured material, and in biological soft materials ex vivo or in vivo.
  • Quick and efficient: Conclusive results are obtained in only minutes.
  • Economical and easy to use: The simple system is inexpensive to use, maintain and store, and requires minimal user training time.
  • Potentially Portable: The simple system can be incorporated into a hand-held device.
Rapid determination of the elastic properties and/or heterogeneities of the elastic properties of natural biological tissues, artificial tissues, and/or soft polymeric materials.
Dr. Alfred J. Crosby is a Professor in the Polymer Science and Engineering Department and a leader in the field of elastomeric materials science, has earned many prestigious awards, is a prolific inventor, and his work has been covered extensively in the popular media, including Discovery Channel, CNET, Businessweek and CNN Money/Fortune Magazine. His research interests include mechanical properties of hierarchical structures, polymer adhesion, biomimetic materials design, responsive surfaces and materials, deformation and fracture of thin films, polymer patterning, combinatorial methods, and nanocomposites.
Available for Licensing or Sponsored Research
UMA 06-16
US Patent 8,321,139 Issued
Ling Shen
Senior Licensing Officer
University of Massachusetts
Alfred Crosby
Jessica Zimberlin Eastman (pat agent)