A Tensegrity Structure With Buckling Compression Elements: Application to Cell Mechanics

[+] Author and Article Information
M. F. Coughlin, D. Stamenović

Department of Biomedical Engineering, Boston University, 44 Cummington Street, Boston, MA 02215

J. Appl. Mech 64(3), 480-486 (Sep 01, 1997) (7 pages) doi:10.1115/1.2788918 History: Received July 29, 1996; Revised March 15, 1997; Online October 25, 2007


A tensegrity structure composed of six slender struts interconnected with 24 linearly elastic cables is used as a model of cell deformability. Struts are allowed to buckle under compression and their post-buckling behavior is determined from an energy formulation of the classical pin-ended Euler column. At the reference state, the cables carry initial tension balanced by forces exerted by struts. The structure is stretched uniaxially and the stretching force versus axial extension relationships are obtained for different initial cable tensions by considering equilibrium at the joints. Structural stiffness is calculated as the ratio of stretching force to axial extension. Predicted dependences of structural stiffness on initial cable tension and on stretching force are consistent with behaviors observed in living cells. These predictions are both qualitatively and quantitatively superior to those obtained previously from the model in which the struts are viewed as rigid.

Copyright © 1997 by The American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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