Performing Microscope-Mounted Y-Shaped Cutting Tests

Matthew Guerena, Jing Chen Peng, Marcus Schmid, Cecilia Walsh, Shaobo Zhan, Shelby B. Hutchens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Y-shaped cutting has recently been shown to be a promising method by which to understand the threshold length scale and failure energy of a material, as well as its failure response in the presence of excess deformation energy. The experimental apparatus used in these studies was vertically oriented and required cumbersome steps to adjust the angle between the Y-shaped legs. The vertical orientation prohibits visualization in standard optical microscopes. This protocol presents a Y-shaped cutting apparatus that mounts horizontally over an existing inverted microscope stage, can be adjusted in three dimensions (X-Y-Z) to fall within the objective's field of view, and allows easy modification of the angle between the legs. The latter two features are new for this experimental technique. The presented apparatus measures the cutting force within 1 mN accuracy. When testing polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS), the reference material for this technique, a cutting energy of 132.96 J/m2 was measured (32° leg angle, 75 g preload) and found to fall within the error of previous measurements taken with a vertical setup (132.9 J/m2 ± 3.4 J/m2). The approach applies to soft synthetic materials, tissues, or bio-membranes and may provide new insights into their behavior during failure. The list of parts, CAD files, and detailed instructions in this work provide a roadmap for the easy implementation of this powerful technique.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere64546
JournalJournal of Visualized Experiments
Issue number191
StatePublished - Jan 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemical Engineering
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • General Neuroscience


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