Glass microneedles for force measurements: a finite-element analysis model

  • Peter N. Ayittey
  • John S. Walker
  • Jeremy J. Rice
  • Pieter P. de Tombe
Instruments and Techniques


Changes in developed force (0.1–3.0 μN) observed during contraction of single myofibrils in response to rapidly changing calcium concentrations can be measured using glass microneedles. These microneedles are calibrated for stiffness and deflect on response to developed myofibril force. The precision and accuracy of kinetic measurements are highly dependent on the structural and mechanical characteristics of the microneedles, which are generally assumed to have a linear force–deflection relationship. We present a finite-element analysis (FEA) model used to simulate the effects of measurable geometry on stiffness as a function of applied force and validate our model with actual measured needle properties. In addition, we developed a simple heuristic constitutive equation that best describes the stiffness of our range of microneedles used and define limits of geometry parameters within which our predictions hold true. Our model also maps a relation between the geometry parameters and natural frequencies in air, enabling optimum parametric combinations for microneedle fabrication that would reflect more reliable force measurement in fluids and physiological environments. We propose a use for this model to aid in the design of microneedles to improve calibration time, reproducibility, and precision for measuring myofibrillar, cellular, and supramolecular kinetic forces.


Calibration FEA simulation Myofibril kinetics Cellular force probe Frequency response 



This study was supported, in part, by NIH grants HL62426, HL75494, and HL73828. The authors acknowledge Ryan Mateja for investigating the linearity of the nanofabricated cantilever chips from Dr. Gerald Pollack’s group.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter N. Ayittey
    • 1
  • John S. Walker
    • 1
  • Jeremy J. Rice
    • 1
    • 2
  • Pieter P. de Tombe
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Physiology and Biophysics MC901, Center for Cardiovascular ResearchUniversity of Illinois at ChicagoChicagoUSA
  2. 2.Functional Genomics and Systems Biology GroupIBM T.J. Watson Research CenterYorktown HeightsUSA

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