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Title: Relaxation capacity of cartilage is a critical factor in rate- and integrity-dependent fracture

Articular cartilage heals poorly but experiences mechanically induced damage across a broad range of loading rates and matrix integrity. Because loading rates and matrix integrity affect cartilage mechanical responses due to poroviscoelastic relaxation mechanisms, their effects on cartilage failure are important for assessing and preventing failure. This paper investigated rate- and integrity-dependent crack nucleation in cartilage from pre- to post-relaxation timescales. Rate-dependent crack nucleation and relaxation responses were obtained as a function of matrix integrity through microindentation. Total work for crack nucleation increased with decreased matrix integrity, and with decreased loading rates. Critical energy release rate of intact cartilage was estimated as 2.39 ± 1.39 to 2.48 ± 1.26 kJ m−2in a pre-relaxation timescale. These findings showed that crack nucleation is delayed when cartilage can accommodate localized loading through poroviscoelastic relaxation mechanisms before fracture at a given loading rate and integrity state.

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Scientific Reports
Nature Publishing Group
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National Science Foundation
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