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Mechanical properties of soft biological tissues play a critical role in physiology and disease, affecting cell behavior and fate decisions and contributing to tissue development, maintenance, and repair. Limitations of existing tools prevent a comprehensive characterization of soft tissue biomechanics, hindering our understanding of these fundamental processes. Here, we develop an instrument for high-fidelity uniaxial tensile testing of soft biological tissues in controlled environmental conditions, which is based on the closed-loop interaction between an electromagnetic actuator and an optical strain sensor. We first validate the instrument using synthetic elastomers characterized via conventional methods; then, we leverage the proposed device to investigate the mechanical properties of murine esophageal tissue and, individually, of each of its constitutive layers, namely, the epithelial, connective, and muscle tissues. The enhanced reliability of this instrument makes it an ideal platform for future wide-ranging studies of the mechanics of soft biological tissues.

Original publication




Journal article


Sci adv

Publication Date





Animals, Mice, Models, Biological, Reproducibility of Results, Elastomers, Muscles, Biomechanical Phenomena, Stress, Mechanical, Tensile Strength