Stiffness distribution of a spherical gel structure and bifurcation analysis with application to stem-cell differentiation

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

View graph of relations


Related Research Unit(s)


Original languageEnglish
Article number103640
Journal / PublicationInternational Journal of Non-Linear Mechanics
Online published30 Nov 2020
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021


In biophysics, gel substrates have been used to do stem-cell differentiation by utilizing the stiffness distribution in the gel. However, in the currently available designs, the stiffness range may not be large enough and there also lacks a quantitative control. In this paper, we introduce a mechanical–chemical model for a spherical gel structure which generates an inhomogeneous deformation in the gel with a stiffness distribution when it is immersed in a solvent. The solution is quantitatively computed and the influences of adjustable geometric, material, loading parameters on the stiffness range are examined in detail. A bifurcation analysis is conducted to determine the threshold of the loading parameter. As a result, a guideline is provided on how to adjust the involved parameters to generate a desirable large stiffness range without the occurrence of bifurcation. Two examples are provided in which the proper parameters are selected, leading to the stiffness ranges suitable for stem-cell differentiation for skin and thyroid tissues.

Research Area(s)

  • Bifurcation, Spherical gel layer, Stem-cell differentiation, Stiffness distribution