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Elastic moduli of biological fibers in a coarse-grained model: crystalline cellulose and β-amyloids

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Abstract

We study the mechanical response of cellulose and β-amyloid microfibrils to three types of deformation: tensile, indentational, and shear. The cellulose microfibrils correspond to the allomorphs Iα or Iβ whereas the β-amyloid microfibrils correspond to the polymorphs of either two- or three-fold symmetry. This response can be characterized by three elastic moduli, namely, YL, YT, and S. We use a structure-based coarse-grained model to analyze the deformations in a unified manner. We find that each of the moduli is almost the same for the two allomorphs of cellulose but YL is about 20 times larger than YT (140 GPa vs. 7 GPa), indicating the existence of significant anisotropy. For cellulose we note that the anisotropy results from the involvement of covalent bonds in stretching. For β-amyloid, the sense of anisotropy is opposite to that of cellulose. In the three-fold symmetry case, YL is about half of YT (3 vs. 7) whereas for two-fold symmetry the anisotropy is much larger (1.6 vs. 21 GPa). The S modulus is derived to be 1.2 GPa for three-fold symmetry and one half of it for the other symmetry and 3.0 GPa for cellulose. The values of the moduli reflect deformations in the hydrogen-bond network. Unlike in our theoretical approach, no experiment can measure all three elastic moduli with the same apparatus. However, our theoretical results are consistent with various measured values: typical YL for cellulose Iβ ranges from 133 to 155 GPa, YT from 2 to 25 GPa, and S from 1.8 to 3.8 GPa. For β-amyloid, the experimental values of S and YT are about 0.3 GPa and 3.3 GPa respectively, while the value of YL has not been reported.

Graphical abstract: Elastic moduli of biological fibers in a coarse-grained model: crystalline cellulose and β-amyloids

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Publication details

The article was received on 03 Aug 2017, accepted on 25 Sep 2017 and first published on 25 Sep 2017


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C7CP05269C
Citation: Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys., 2017, Advance Article
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    Elastic moduli of biological fibers in a coarse-grained model: crystalline cellulose and β-amyloids

    A. B. Poma, M. Chwastyk and M. Cieplak, Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys., 2017, Advance Article , DOI: 10.1039/C7CP05269C

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