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Mechanical properties of cells or cell components on the micro- and nanometer scale

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Mechanical properties of cells or cellular components such as the cytoskeleton may give some indications on the health status of the cell. In this presentation, I will discuss developments in instrumentation and its applications. We applied optical tweezers and particle tracking rheology to the investigation of the extracted keratin cytoskeleton and to epithelial cells from lung tissue. The combination of the two tools allow to stimulate matter on the microscale and to detect the resulting response. The results are local mean square displacement curves and by an integral transform G’ and G’’ as a function of frequency. The optical stretcher (Guck et al.) uses light to deform cells. We built an optical stretcher for adherent cells. The light for stretching is fed into a microscope collinear with the observation path. Using techniques from particle tracking rheology the displacement of the cell’s surface is determined to a few 10 nm. The response curves are modelled using the Burger model, also known as the standard model of polymer rheology. Both techniques yield results pointing to the same direction. An outlook to possible further developments closes the presentation.

This talk is part of the BPI Seminar Series series.

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