Composite Substrates

Rigidity Sensing

Shape Sensing

We invented a composite cell culture substrate, with microdomains of defined rigidity, for probing the mechanism of rigidity sensing and efficient screening of sensing defects. Following up on the earlier discovery of durotaxis, we are applying composite substrates with defined rigidity patterns to probe the mechanism of rigidity sensing. We suggested that cells may detect their own shape and size based on the required mechanical forces to maintain the shape and the associated changes in focal adhesion size.

Dimension Sensing

Sensing Mechanism

Migration Mechanism

We demonstrated that adherent cells prefer to stay in 2D areas rather than 1D lines, possibly due to the difference in traction forces. We proposed a universal mechanical mechanism at focal adhesions capable of responding to a number of environmental and intracellular physical cues. To dissect regional function and coordination during cell migration, we combined micropatterning and microfluidics to apply inhibitors to specific regions of migrating cells to determine the responses.


Method Protocol Micropatterning Cell Adhesion on Polyacrylamide-Grafted Glass
Method Protocol Micropatterning Cell Adhesion on Polyacrylamide Hydrogels
Method Protocol Preparation of a Micropatterned Rigid-Soft Composite Substrate