Modelling of some biological materials using continuum mechanics

Hall, Cameron Luke (2008) Modelling of some biological materials using continuum mechanics. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


Continuum mechanics provides a mathematical framework for modelling the physical stresses experienced by a material. Recent studies show that physical stresses play an important role in a wide variety of biological processes, including dermal wound healing, soft tissue growth and morphogenesis. Thus, continuum mechanics is a useful mathematical tool for modelling a range of biological phenomena. Unfortunately, classical continuum mechanics is of limited use in biomechanical problems. As cells refashion the �bres that make up a soft tissue, they sometimes alter the tissue's fundamental mechanical structure. Advanced mathematical techniques are needed in order to accurately describe this sort of biological plasticity'. A number of such techniques have been proposed by previous researchers. However, models that incorporate biological plasticity tend to be very complicated. Furthermore, these models are often di�cult to apply and/or interpret, making them of limited practical use. One alternative approach is to ignore biological plasticity and use classical continuum mechanics. For example, most mechanochemical models of dermal wound healing assume that the skin behaves as a linear viscoelastic solid. Our analysis indicates that this assumption leads to physically unrealistic results. In this thesis we present a novel and practical approach to modelling biological plasticity. Our principal aim is to combine the simplicity of classical linear models with the sophistication of plasticity theory. To achieve this, we perform a careful mathematical analysis of the concept of azero stress state'. This leads us to a formal de�nition of strain that is appropriate for materials that undergo internal remodelling. Next, we consider the evolution of the zero stress state over time. We develop a novel theory of `morphoelasticity' that can be used to describe how the zero stress state changes in response to growth and remodelling. Importantly, our work yields an intuitive and internally consistent way of modelling anisotropic growth. Furthermore, we are able to use our theory of morphoelasticity to develop evolution equations for elastic strain. We also present some applications of our theory. For example, we show that morphoelasticity can be used to obtain a constitutive law for a Maxwell viscoelastic uid that is valid at large deformation gradients. Similarly, we analyse a morphoelastic model of the stress-dependent growth of a tumour spheroid. This work leads to the prediction that a tumour spheroid will always be in a state of radial compression and circumferential tension. Finally, we conclude by presenting a novel mechanochemical model of dermal wound healing that takes into account the plasticity of the healing skin.

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ID Code: 37244
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: McElwain, Donald, Pettet, Graeme, & Upton, Zee
Keywords: asymptotic analysis, biomechanics, continuum mechanics, dermal wound healing, growth, mathematical biology, mathematical modelling, morphoelasticity, plasticity, residual stress, viscoelasticity, zero stress state
Divisions: Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Science and Technology
Past > Schools > Mathematical Sciences
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 23 Sep 2010 05:51
Last Modified: 28 Oct 2011 19:59

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