Predicting the Mechanical Properties of Fibrin Using Neural Networks Trained on Discrete Fiber Network Data

Yue Leng, Sarah Calve, Adrian Buganza Tepole

Fibrin is a structural protein key for processes such as wound healing and thrombus formation. At the macroscale, fibrin forms a gel and has a mechanical response that is dictated by the mechanics of a microscale fiber network. Hence, accurate description of fibrin gels can be achieved using representative volume elements (RVE) that explicitly model the discrete fiber networks of the microscale. These RVE models, however, cannot be efficiently used to model the macroscale due to the challenges and computational demands of multiscale coupling. Here, we propose the use of an artificial, fully connected neural network (FCNN) to efficiently capture the behavior of the RVE models. The FCNN was trained on 1100 fiber networks subjected to 121 biaxial deformations. The stress data from the RVE, together with the total energy on the fibers and the condition of incompressibility of the surrounding matrix, were used to determine the derivatives of an unknown strain energy function with respect to the deformation invariants. During training, the loss function was modified to ensure convexity of the strain energy function and symmetry of its Hessian. A general FCNN model was coded into a user material subroutine (UMAT) in the software Abaqus. The UMAT implementation takes in the structure and parameters of an arbitrary FCNN as material parameters from the input file. The inputs to the FCNN include the first two isochoric invariants of the deformation. The FCNN outputs the derivatives of the strain energy with respect to the isochoric invariants. In this work, the FCNN trained on the discrete fiber network data was used in finite element simulations of fibrin gels using our UMAT. We anticipate that this work will enable further integration of machine learning tools with computational mechanics. It will also improve computational modeling of biological materials characterized by a multiscale structure.

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