Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2012

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Mechanical Engineering

First Advisor

H. Jerry Qi

Second Advisor

Yifu Ding

Third Advisor

Jianliang Xiao

Fourth Advisor

Wei Tan

Fifth Advisor

Franck Vernerey


Cells can response to various environmental stimuli, including chemicals, light, gravity, stiffness etc. Recent studies have showed that cells are sensitive to local substrate features like grooves, ridges and wells. Cell-substrate interaction is the gateway for the cell to feel the environmental stimuli, especially mechanical ones. However, the nature of how cells detect and respond to external topographic features is still unclear. In this paper, we presented a FEA based computational model for cell-substrate interactions. The cell-substrate adhesion is achieved by the forming of receptor-ligand bonds. Cell crawling and adhesion are studied with this model. We modeled a single cell's adhesion on rectangular and v-shaped rigid groove substrates. We found out that cell adhesion zone length is dependent on the groove height. The relationship between groove width and critical groove adhesion height is obtained on rectangular groove surface, and we also develop a theory to predict the critical adhesion height for a given groove width. On v-shaped groove substrates, we obtained the relationship of aspect ratio with groove height. We gained some insights about how cell adhesion can detect and respond to groove features through its mechanical interaction.