Friction coefficient measurement of hydrogel materials on living epithelial cells

Alison C. Dunn, Jessica A. Cobb, Ana N. Kantzios, Sung Jin Lee, Malisa Sarntinoranont, Roger Tran-Son-Tay, W. Gregory Sawyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Soft biomaterials are often used in applications that involve contact and relative motion against biological tissues, as well as complicated and variable environments. The friction coefficient of these contacts involving living human cells is of key importance in the analysis and success of these devices. This work measures the contacting friction coefficient between soft hydrogel biomaterial surfaces against live human corneal epithelial cells using a custom micro-tribometer. The friction coefficients were of the order of μ = 0.03 for contacts that did not cause gross destruction of the cell layer. Damage to the confluent cell layer was assessed using a Trypan blue stain with optical microscopy. This damage was quantified statistically using image-processing software. The damage was also correlated to in situ friction measurements, with the lowest friction values seen on undamaged cells and higher friction on damaged regions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13-19
Number of pages7
JournalTribology Letters
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Biotribology
  • Friction
  • Hydrogel

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films


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