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Biomacromolecules. 2004 Sep-Oct;5(5):1908-16.

Elasticity of native and cross-linked polyelectrolyte multilayer films.

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Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale, Unité 595, Université Louis Pasteur, 11 rue Humann, 67085 Strasbourg Cedex, France.


Mechanical properties of polyelectrolyte multilayer films were studied by nanoindentation using the atomic force microscope (AFM). Force-distance measurements using colloidal probe tips were systematically obtained for supported films of poly(L-lysine) and hyaluronan that are suited to bio-application. Both native and covalently cross-linked films were studied as a function of increasing layer number, which increases film thickness. The effective Young's modulus perpendicular to the film, Eperpendicular, was determined to be a function of film thickness, cross-linking, and sample age. Thick PEM films exhibited a lower Eperpendicular than thinner PEM, whereas the Young's modulus of cross-linked films was more than 10-fold larger than native films. Moduli range from approximately 20 kPa for native films up to approximately 800 kPa for cross-linked ones. Young's moduli increased slightly with sample age, plateauing after approximately 4 weeks. Spreading of smooth muscle cells on these substrates with pre-attached collagen proved to be highly dependent on film rigidity with stiffer films giving greater cell spreading.

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