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Publication Date


Date of Final Oral Examination (Defense)


Type of Culminating Activity

Thesis - Boise State University Access Only

Degree Title

Master of Science Mechanical Engineering


Mechanical and Biomechanical Engineering

Major Advisor

David Estrada, Ph.D.


Trevor Lujan, Ph.D.


Clare Fitzpatrick, Ph.D.


Osteoarthritis (OA), a degenerative joint disease marked by the progressive erosion of articular cartilage, affects over one third of the U.S. population over the age of 65 and is the 11th leading cause of disability worldwide. Articular cartilage is avascular, aneural, and alymphatic, and therefore has a limited capability to repair itself. One promising avenue for the treatment of OA is tissue engineering. Three-dimensional scaffolding that mimics the native cellular microenvironment while additionally controlling stem cell growth and differentiation is needed to aid in the regeneration of tissues like articular cartilage. Graphene – a 2-dimensional crystal of hexagonally arranged carbon atoms – and its derivatives have recently been explored as substrates for cell culture due to their exceptional mechanical, electrical, and thermal properties. In particular, graphene foam (GF), the 3-dimensional analogue of graphene, has recently been shown as an effective bioscaffold for stem cell growth and differentiation along various musculoskeletal pathways. While it is well known that scaffold stiffness plays a critical role in cell proliferation and differentiation, the mechanical evaluation of GF-tissue composites is not performed. Therefore, this study utilizes non-destructive techniques to measure both static and viscoelastic mechanical properties of GF. Additionally, we demonstrate GF’s potential as a scaffold for cartilage tissue regeneration by elucidating the time dependent changes in the mechanical properties of the GF scaffold as ATDC5s grow and differentiate. To our knowledge, these are the first such measurements for graphene-soft tissue composites.