Pflugers Archiv European Journal of Physiology

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

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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. © 2008 Springer-Verlag.