Determination of Poisson's Ratio of Articular Cartilage by Indentation Using Different-Sized Indenters

Hui Jin, Jack L. Lewis

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116 Scopus citations


Articular cartilage is often characterized as an isotropic elastic material with no interstitial fluid flow during instantaneous and equilibrium conditions, and indentation testing commonly used to deduce material properties of Young's modulus and Poisson's ratio. Since only one elastic parameter can be deduced from a single indentation test, some other test method is often used to allow separate measurement of both parameters. In this study, a new method is introduced by which the two material parameters can be obtained using indentation tests alone, without requiring a secondary different type of test. This feature makes the method more suitable for testing small samples in situ. The method takes advantages of the finite layer effect. By indenting the sample twice with different-sized indenters, a nonlinear equation with the Poisson's ratio as the only unknown can be formed and Poisson's ratio obtained by solving the nonlinear equation. The method was validated by comparing the predicted Poisson's ratio for urethane rubber with the manufacturer's supplied value, and comparing the predicted Young's modulus for urethane rubber and an elastic foam material with modulii measured by unconfined compression. Anisotropic and nonhomogeneous finite-element (FE) models of the indentation were developed to aid in data interpretation. Applying the method to bovine patellar cartilage, the tissue's Young's modulus was found to be 1.79 ± 0.59 MPa in instantaneous response and 0.45 ± 0.26 MPa in equilibrium, and the Poisson's ratio 0.503 ± 0.028 and 0.463 ± 0.073 in instantaneous and equilibrium, respectively. The equilibrium Poisson's ratio obtained in our work was substantially higher than those derived from biphasic indentation theory and those optically measured in an unconfined compression test. The finite element model results and examination of viscoelastic-biphasic models suggest this could be due to viscoelastic, inhomogeneity, and anisotropy effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)138-145
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of biomechanical engineering
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2004


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