Quantifying the Traction Force of a Single Cell by Aligned Silicon Nanowire Array

Zhou Li, Jinhui Song, Giulia Mantini, Ming-Yen Lu, Hao Fang, Christian Falconi, Lih-Juann Chen, Zhong Lin Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

116 Scopus citations


The physical behaviors of stationary cells, such as the morphology, motility, adhesion, anchorage, invasion and metastasis, are likely to be important for governing their biological characteristics. A change in the physical properties of mammalian cells could be an indication of disease. In this paper, we present a silicon-nanowire-array based technique for quantifying the mechanical behavior of single cells representing three distinct groups: normal mammalian cells, benign cells (L929), and malignant cells (HeLa). By culturing the cells on top of NW arrays, the maximum traction forces of two different tumor cells (HeLa, L929) have been measured by quantitatively analyzing the bending of the nanowires. The cancer cell exhibits a larger traction force than the normal cell by ∼20% for a HeLa cell and ∼50% for a L929 cell. The traction forces have been measured for the L929 cells and mechanocytes as a function of culture time. The relationship between cells extending area and their traction force has been investigated. Our study is likely important for studying the mechanical properties of single cells and their migration characteristics, possibly providing a new cellular level diagnostic technique. © 2009 American Chemical Society.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3575-3580
Number of pages6
JournalNano Letters
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 14 2009
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledged KAUST grant number(s): CMMI 0403671, DMS 0706436
Acknowledgements: Research supported by DARPA (Army/AMCOM/REDSTONE AR, W31P4Q-08-1-0009), BES DOE (DE-FG02-07ER46394), KAUST Global Research Partnership, Emory-Georgia Tech CCNE from NIH, and NSF (DMS 0706436, CMMI 0403671). Z.L. and H.F. are joint students between Georgia Tech and Peking University, and they thank the partial fellowship support by the China Scholarship Council (CSC) (No. 20073020) that supported them to carry out the research at Georgia Tech. M.-Y.L. was on a ROC National Science Council Fellowship for conducting research at Georgia Tech.
This publication acknowledges KAUST support, but has no KAUST affiliated authors.


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