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Research Abstracts Online
January 2008 - March 2009

University of Minnesota Twin Cities
Institute of Technology
Department of Civil Engineering

PI: Roberto Ballarini

Molecular and Continuum Modeling of Collagen Structures

Collagen, which is an essential component of bones, has an intriguing hierarchical structure and a great deal of effort has been expended to study the mechanical properties of collagens experimentally and numerically. In a recent experiment, these researchers found that the strength, stiffness, and fracture toughness of collagen fibrils are high compared to their sizes (diameter or/and lengths). To interpret the experimental results, numerical simulations are carried out to help reach a fully understanding of the mechanical properties of collagen fibrils. The simulations use a mesoscopic fibril model in which fibrils with different diameters and lengths are subjected to numerical uniaxial tension tests by using molecular dynamics simulations. The cross-linking density as an important factor in determining the mechanical properties of fibrils is also investigated. Finally, the researchers will construct phenomenological continuum models that consider size effects and the results will be compared with their molecular simulations. The mesoscopic model of fibrils will be decorated by implementing more complex intra- and intermolecular potentials and the study will expand to investigate the mechanical behaviors of fibrils under other loading conditions.

Group Member

Yuye Tang, Research Associate