Articular cartilage (AC) covers the articulating bones within synovial joints. Mechanically, it provides a bearing surface with low friction and wear properties, and it lowers surface stress by deforming and increasing the contact area. Cartilage mechanics has received much attention, but until recently most investigations have focused on average properties of full thickness tissue. However, given depth dependent variations in composition and structure, there is a growing appreciation of the tissue’s inhomogeneity and its relationship to mechanical behavior [1–4]. Determining the depth-dependent mechanical properties plays an important role in understanding the relationship between function and structure of native, diseased and tissue-engineered cartilage.

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