Cancellous bone is a porous composite of calcified tissue interspersed with soft marrow. Sea ice is also a porous composite, consisting of pure ice with brine, air, and salt inclusions. Interestingly, the microstructures of bone and sea ice exhibit notable similarities. In recent years, we have developed mathematical and experimental techniques for imaging and characterizing the brine microstructure of sea ice, such as its volume fraction and connectivity, as well as a range of theoretical approaches for studying fluid, thermal, and electromagnetic transport in sea ice. Here we explore the application of our sea ice techniques to investigate trabecular bone. For example, percolation theory that quantifies brine connectivity and its thermal evolution can also help assess the impact of osteoporosis on trabecular structure. Central to our approach is the spectral measure of a composite material, which contains detailed information about the mixture geometry, and can be used in powerful integral representations to compute the effective properties. The spectral measure is obtained from the eigenvalues and eigenvectors of a self-adjoint operator determined exclusively by the composite microgeometry. Here we compute the spectral measures for discretizations of images of healthy and osteoporotic bone. The measures are used to compute the effective electromagnetic properties of the bone specimens. These data are then inverted to reconstruct the porosity of the original specimens, with excellent agreement.
Bone; Sea ice; Porosity; Percolation; Spectral reconstruction