Investigating the Heterogeneous Modulus of a Live Epithelial Monolayer:
Current approaches for measuring the mechanical properties of tissues are time intensive, invasive, or can only achieve a tissue level resolution, overlooking mechanical heterogeneities which can serve as disease biomarkers. In this project, cell-stretching instrumentation is developed and used with an inference algorithm to resolve heterogeneities in modulus at a cellular resolution. A piezo motor-driven cell stretcher device stretches a live epithelium cultured on an ultra-thin and soft freestanding PDMS membrane while DIC images are captured in real time. Images are processed and used as an input into a neural network that can directly output its corresponding heterogeneous modulus field.