The nanostructures of bone and partially mineralized tissues determine the toughness (Buehler, 2007) and stiffness (Genin et al., submitted) of these tissues. In the attachment of tendon to bone, tissue compositions and possibly nanostructures vary spatially in concert with microscopic and macroscopic variations in tissue shape, presumably to improve load transfer from tendon to bone (Thomopoulos et al., 2006). We hypothesize that undesirable stress concentrations resulting from a failure to recreate the details of this spatial grading following surgical healing may underlie the low levels of success of surgeries to repair tendon-to-bone attachments such as the rotator cuff (Galatz, 2001). Therefore, a detailed understanding of the gradients in composition and structure of the natural tendon-to-bone attachment as well as an understanding of the mechanisms of their development are critical for our efforts to synthesize surgical grafts that augment tendon-to-bone healing. As a first step towards understanding the nanometer-scale details of the tendon-to-bone attachment, we studied the nanostructure of bone using steric modeling and scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM).

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