Combining tensile testing and structural analysis at the single collagen fibril level

Sci Data. 2018 Oct 23:5:180229. doi: 10.1038/sdata.2018.229.


Tensile testing to failure followed by imaging is a simple way of studying the structure-function relationship of connective tissues such as skin, tendon, and ligament. However, interpretation of these datasets is complex due to the hierarchical structures of the tissues spanning six or more orders of magnitude in length scale. Here we present a dataset obtained through the same scheme at the single collagen fibril level, the fundamental tensile element of load-bearing tissues. Tensile testing was performed on fibrils extracted from two types of bovine tendons, adsorbed on a glass surface and glued at both ends. An atomic force microscope (AFM) was used to pull fibrils to failure in bowstring geometry. The broken fibrils were then imaged by AFM for morphological characterization, by second harmonic generation microscopy to assess changes to molecular packing, and by fluorescence microscopy after incubation with a peptide probe that binds specifically to denatured collagen molecules. This dataset linking stress-strain curves to post-failure molecular changes is useful for researchers modelling or designing functional protein materials.

Publication types

  • Dataset
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Cattle
  • Collagen / chemistry
  • Collagen / ultrastructure*
  • Microscopy, Atomic Force / methods*
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence / methods
  • Second Harmonic Generation Microscopy / methods
  • Tendons / chemistry*
  • Tensile Strength*


  • Collagen

Associated data

  • figshare/10.6084/m9.figshare.c.4126559