Mechanical properties of desiccated ragweed pollen grains determined by micromanipulation and theoretical modelling

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The mechanical properties of desiccated ragweed pollen grains were determined using a micromanipulation technique and a theoretical model. Single pollen grains with a diameter of approximately 20 microm were compressed and held, compressed and released, and compressed to rupture at different speeds between two parallel surfaces. Simultaneously, the force being imposed on the pollen grains was measured. It has been found that the rupture force of pollen grains increased linearly with their displacement at rupture on average, but was independent of their diameter. The mean rupture force was 1.20 +/- 0.03 mN, and mean deformation (the ratio between the displacement and diameter) at rupture was 22 +/- 0.6%. Single pollen grains were modeled as a capsule with a core full of air and a non permeable wall. A constitutive equation based on Hookean law was used to determine the mechanical property parameters Eh (product of the Young's modulus and wall thickness), and the mean value of Eh of desiccated pollen gains was estimated to be 1653 +/- 36 N/m.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)770-775
Number of pages6
JournalBiotechnology and Bioengineering
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2004


  • ragweed pollen, linear elasticity, rupture force, mechanical properties, Young's modulus