High spatial resolution (1.1 μm and 20 nm) FTIR polarization contrast imaging reveals pre-rupture disorder in damaged tendon

R. Wiens, C. R. Findlay, S. G. Baldwin, L. Kreplak, J. M. Lee, S. P. Veres and K. M. Gough

Faraday Discussions, 187, 555-573 (2016)
Collagen is a major constituent in many life forms; in mammals, collagen appears as a component of skin, bone, tendon and cartilage, where it performs critical functions. Vibrational spectroscopy methods are excellent for studying the structure and function of collagen-containing tissues, as they provide molecular insight into composition and organization. The latter is particularly important for collagenous materials, given that a key feature is their hierarchical, oriented structure, organized from molecular to macroscopic length scales. Here, we present the first results of high-resolution FTIR polarization contrast imaging, at 1.1 μm and 20 nm scales, on control and mechanically damaged tendon. The spectroscopic data are supported with parallel SEM and correlated AFM imaging. Our goal is to explore the changes induced in tendon after the application of damaging mechanical stress, and the consequences for the healing processes. The results and possibilities for the application of these high-spatial-resolution FTIR techniques in spectral pathology, and eventually in clinical applications, are discussed.