The creation and characterization of large-area ultrathin highly pliable free-standing PDMS membranes and their application to the study of cellular epithelia is described. The ultra-thin membranes permitted the straight forward calculation of cell monolayer moduli, derived from measured stress–strain curves. These measurements allowed the unprecedented detection of cellular-level injury in the epithelia caused by the rupture of cell–cell tight junctions in response to stretching.
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