Biochemical signals, such as growth factors, cytokines, and transcription factors are known to play a crucial role in regulating a variety of cellular activities as well as maintaining the normal function of different tissues and organs. If the biochemical signals are assumed to be one side of the coin, the other side comprises biophysical cues. There is growing evidence showing that biophysical signals, and in particular mechanical cues, also play an important role in different stages of human life ranging from morphogenesis during embryonic development to maturation and maintenance of tissue and organ function throughout life. In order to investigate how mechanical signals influence cell and tissue function, tremendous efforts have been devoted to fabricating various materials and devices for delivering mechanical stimuli to cells and tissues. Here, an overview of the current state of the art in the design and development of such materials and devices is provided, with a focus on their design principles, and challenges and perspectives for future research directions are highlighted.
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