The Laboratory of Bone Biomechanics is dedicated to the study of the micro- to nano-structure of bones and its association with their mechanical function. Bones of all vertebrates, from man to fish, are studied with cutting-edge techniques and equipment.
The overall objective of the laboratory for bone biomechanics is to study the phenotypic biology of bone as a material. We are therefore interested in particular in the detailed structure of various bones and in their mechanical properties.
Bone, like most biological tissues, has a complex hierarchical structure, with different architectural motifs at different length scales. In its most fundamental concept it is a composite material, combining stiffness-providing hydroxyapatite crystals with a compliant collagenous matrix. Nevertheless, the variety of bone compositional and architectural arrangements is vast, resulting in a huge array of bone types.
Understanding the relationship between the mechanical behavior of whole bones, their materials properties and their structure, is a formidable challenge. This challenge is further enhanced since the material itself is complex and hierarchical, anisotropic and inhomogeneous. It is for these reasons that it is still beyond the state of-the-art to predict and fully understand the mechanical functions of whole biological entities such as bones and teeth.
In order to elucidate the structure-function relationships of various bones we are employing state-of-the-art methods of structural studies and mechanical testing methods. Data of this kind create the exciting possibility of relating the complex distribution of mechanical properties of loaded biological materials such as bone and teeth and their microstructures to deformations and strains. Such studies could improve our understanding of the basic phenotypic biology of bone, physiological processes such as skeletal development or aging, as well as disease processes which affect bone such as osteoporosis and chronic kidney disease. They also provide opportunities for engineers designing bio-inspired materials to study the principles, advantages and characteristics of the behavior of hierarchical and multifunctional materials.