Modelling collagen fibril structure using continuum theory
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Collagen fibrils are microscopic, rope-like, biological structures that provide mechanical support to tissues within humans and other animals. It is still not fully understood how these fibrils self-assemble from their molecular constituents. In this thesis, we address questions of fibril formation and structure by applying continuum theories of soft matter physics to the collagen fibril. We introduce a theoretical model which allows us to predict structural and mechanical properties of collagen fibrils, and demonstrate that these properties are consistent with experimental observation. Our model also predicts coexistence between two different fibril phases, something which has been alluded to in the literature for many years.