Within the articular cartilage (composed of fluid, electrolytes, chondrocytes, collagen fibers, proteoglycans and other glycoproteins) fibers of predominantly Type II collagen provide tensile strength and stiffness to the solid phase, a proteoglycan gel. Collagen fibers exhibit a high level of structural organization usually consisting of three sub-tissue zones: (i) a superficial tangent zone with fibers which are tangential to the articular surface, (ii) a middle zone with fibers isotropically oriented, (iii) a deep zone with fibers oriented perpendicular to the subchondral bone [1]. Given the importance of this collagen fiber fabric in the mechanical properties of articular cartilage, many destructive and nondestructive experimental methods have been pursued to characterize fiber orientation and density.

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