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Probes For Measuring Shear Stiffness

The tectorial membrane is a microscopic, transparent tissue that is extremely compliant. Because its material properties are critical for hearing, we have been developing new tools and techniques for measuring its response to mechanical forces. The microscopic probes shown here can be used to apply calibrated mechanical forces to the TM. The tip of each probe contains a 30x30 micrometer plate that is placed on the surface of the TM. Displacements applied at the base of the probe cause the plate to exert force on the TM. By measuring the motion of the base and the plate, we can determine the mechanical impedance of the TM.