The answers to many open questions in medicine depend on understanding the mechanical behaviour of biological soft tissues. For example, which tendon is most appropriate to replace the anterior cruciate ligament in reconstruction surgery? what causes the onset of aneurysms in the aorta? and how does the mechanics of the bladder wall affect afferent nerve firing? Current work at The University of Manchester seeks to understand how the microstructure of a biological soft tissue affects its macroscale mechanical properties. Most of the work to date has focused on simple deformations (e.g. longitudinal extension under tension) for which analytical solutions can be found. However, the geometry and deformation of many soft tissues in vivo is sufficiently complex to prohibit analytical solutions.
In this project, we will use our “in house” finite element software oomph-lib to investigate complex deformations of biological soft tissues. The work will require development and implementation of novel strain energy functions as well as formulation of non-standard problems in solid mechanics. The project is likely to appeal to students with an interest in continuum mechanics, computational mathematics and interdisciplinary science. The work will be carried out in close collaboration with the School of Materials Science, and the student will have the opportunity to perform experiments at the state-of-the-art Henry Moseley X-ray Imaging Facilities.