Size effects in indentation of hydrated biological tissues
Fluid flow in biological tissues is important in both mechanical and biological contexts. Given the hierarchical nature of tissues, there are varying length scales at which time-dependent mechanical behavior due to fluid flow may be exhibited. Here, spherical nanoindentation and microindentation testings are used for the characterization of length scale effects in the mechanical response of hydrated tissues. Although elastic properties were consistent across length scales, there was a substantial difference between the time-dependent mechanical responses for large and small contact radii in the same tissue specimens. This difference was far more obvious when poroelastic analysis was used instead of viscoelastic analysis. Overall, indentation testing is a fast and robust technique for characterizing the hierarchical structure of biological materials from nanometer to micrometer length scales and is capable of making quantitative material property measurements to do with fluid flow.