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Displacement and force measurement systems in physiology

Development of displacement and force measurement systems used to study dynamic biomechanical properties of biological systems. Micro and nano technology have recently opened the possibility for probing biomechanical properties of cells and their microenvironments. Cells process mechanical cues that in turn drive their functions, growth, differentiation, development, spatial migration, collective organization, etc. Our understanding of the microscopic biomechanical aspects of cells and organs is already coming to fruition, generating new disease and diagnostic paradigms. It is important to design new methods and instruments able to support the growing interdisciplinary work in this field, not only for fundamental scientific research, but also for clinical studies and diagnosis.

Our sensor technology can be used for probing dynamic biomechanical properties of sub-cellular systems, in particular muscle contraction at the myofibril level. We provide a turnkey, high throughput and user-friendly device, at its core having our optical fiber-based displacement/force sensor, conceived to assist researchers and clinicians with minimal technical knowledge about its governing principles. The system can easily interface with other measurement methods. It greatly improves throughput of experimentation, it is easily adaptable for a great variety of samples, and it allows greater freedom for sample preparation and manipulation, as well as for the control of environmental conditions.

Our system is fully integrated with a highly modular and easily extensible LabView program which can control the sensor, a valves system feeding micropipette inlets and their positioning motor, a piezomotor, and a CCD camera, enabling script-based automated experiments.

Other single point, uni-axial in-plane sensors like ours have been reported in the literature. Although they have helped to produce important scientific results, they are far from being efficient and productive tools. Their level of integration is low, they cannot be easily interfaced with other measurement techniques, their operation is very complex and highly dependent on local know-how. Our new system combines the best features of all other reported systems, and is highly exportable within an extensive field of disciplines.

           The Scientific Instrument 3D model (under construction...)
Mosquito sensor in action


Generic and modular automation software (LabView 8.5) that integrates imaging, motion, dosing, and data acquisition devices. This program also contains modules for data conditioning, data processing, and data analysis.


Communications and publications by some of our members

A. Labuda, T. Brastaviceanu, I. Pavlov, W. Paul, and D. E. Rassier; Rev. Sci. Instrum. 82, 013701 (2011); doi:10.1063/1.3527913 (4 pages)
Rates of force development in MgADP-activated myofibrils isolated from skeletal muscles
Ivan Pavlov. Tiberius Brastaviceanu, Dilson Rassier; presented at New Directions in Biology and Disease of Skeletal Muscle, Ottawa, May 5-8, 2010