Departmental Papers (BE)

Document Type

Journal Article

Date of this Version

January 2006


In the pursuit to understand the interaction between cells and their underlying substrates, the life sciences are beginning to incorporate micro- and nanotechnology-based tools to probe and measure cells. The development of these tools portends endless possibilities for new insights into the fundamental relationships between cells and their surrounding microenvironment that underlie the physiology of human tissue. Here, we review techniques and tools that have been used to study how a cell responds to the physical factors in its environment. We also discuss unanswered questions that could be addressed by these approaches to better elucidate the molecular processes and mechanical forces that dominate the interactions between cells and their physical scaffolds.


Postprint version. Published in Annals of Biomedical Engineering, Volume 34, Issue 1, January 2006, pages 59-74. The original publication is available at


cell mechanics, cell shape, extracellular matrix, focal adhesions, integrins, mechanotransduction, micropatterning, nanotopology, self-assembled monolayers (SAMs), traction forces



Date Posted: 06 December 2006

This document has been peer reviewed.