Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.)

Degree Granting Department

Mechanical Engineering

Major Professor

Ying Zhong, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Nathan Gallant, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Rasim Guldiken, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Libin Ye, Ph.D.


3D Printing, Cell Culture, PC-12 Cell Lines, Spinal Cord


Spinal cord injuries (SCI) are among the biggest challenges for medical and engineering fields in the modern era. Many people experience various accidents every year that cause major irreversible trauma in the spinal cord. Damaged neural cells caused by SCI cannot be regenerated, and patients have to live with pain, spasms, or loss of movement. Stem cell differentiation can be a potential solution to generate enough neurol cells in vitro to apply at the defective region. In this research, the impact of dynamic mechanical stimulation on the differentiation of PC-12 cell lines towards neurol cells was studied. Models to apply with controllable strain and frequency dynamic mechanical loading on the scaffolds were successfully built. To enhance the cell-scaffold adhesion and the impact of the mechanical loading, types of scaffold surface modification were tested. It was discovered that corona discharge treatment could significantly enhance adhesion. Through dynamic loading experiments, it was confirmed that mechanical stimulation could enhance the stem cell differentiation towards neurol cells, especially at lower strain and higher loading frequency.