Viscoelastic properties of human tympanic membrane

Tao Cheng, Chenkai Dai, Rong Z. Gan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The tympanic membrane or eardrum of human ear transfers sound waves into mechanical vibration from the external ear canal into the middle ear and cochlea. Mechanical properties of the tympanic membrane (TM) play an important role in sound transmission through the ear. Although limited resources about linear elastic properties of the TM are available in literature, there is a lack of measurement or modeling of viscoelastic properties of the TM at low stress levels. In this study, the uniaxial tensile, stress relaxation, and failure tests were conducted on fresh human cadaver TM specimens to explore mechanical properties of the TM. The experimental results were analyzed using the hyperelastic Ogden model and digital image correlation method. The constitutive equation and non-linear elastic properties of the TM were presented by functions of the stress and strain at the stress range from 0 to 1 MPa. Viscoelastic properties of the TM were described by the stress relaxation function and hysteresis. The results show that the uniaxial tensile test with the aid of digital image correlation analysis is a reliable and useful approach for measuring mechanical properties of ear tissues. The data presented in this paper contribute to ear biomechanics in both experimental measurement and theoretical analysis of ear tissues.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)305-314
Number of pages10
JournalAnnals of Biomedical Engineering
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Biomechanics
  • Digital image correlation
  • Ear
  • Tympanic membrane
  • Viscoelastic properties

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering

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