Biomechanics and Modeling in Mechanobiology vol:14 issue:2 pages:283-295
The airway surface liquid (ASL) is a very thin mucus layer and covers the vocal fold (VF) surface. Adhesion mediated by the ASL occurs during phonation as the VFs separate after collision. Such adhesion is hypothesized to determine voice quality and health. However, biomechanical insights into the adhesive processes during VF oscillation are lacking. Here, a computational study is reported on self-sustained VF vibration involving contact and adhesion. The VF structural
model and the glottal airflow are considered fully three-dimensional. The mechanical behavior of the ASL is described through a constitutive traction–separation law where mucosal cohesive strength, cohesive energy and rupture length enter. Cohesive energy values considered are bound below by the cohesive energy of water at standard temperature and pressure. Cohesive strength values considered are bound above by prior reported data on the adhesive strength of mucosal surface of rat small intestine. This model introduces a mechanical length scale into the analysis. The sensitivity of various aspects of VF dynamics such as flow-declination rate, VF separation under adhesive condition and formation of multiple local fluid bridges is determined in relation to specific ASL adhesive properties. It is found that for the ASL considered here, the characteristics of the VF separation process are of debond type. Instabilities lead to the breakup of the bond area into several smaller bond patches. Such finding is consistent with in-vivo observations.