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Issue 17, 2010
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Measurement of nonlinear rheology of cross-linked biopolymer gels

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One of the hallmarks of biopolymer gels is their nonlinear viscoelastic response to stress, making the measurement of the mechanics of these gels very challenging. Various rheological protocols have been proposed for this; however, a thorough understanding of the techniques and their range of applicability as well as a careful comparison between these methods are still lacking. Using both strain ramp and differential prestress protocols, we investigate the nonlinear response of a variety of systems ranging from extracellular fibrin gels to intracellular F-actin solutions and F-actin cross-linked with permanent and physiological transient linkers. We find that the prestress and strain ramp results agree well for permanently cross-linked networks over two decades of strain rates, while the protocols only agree at high strain rates for more transient networks. Surprisingly, the nonlinear response measured with the prestress protocol is insensitive to creep; although a large applied steady stress can lead to significant flow, this has no significant effect on either the linear or nonlinear response of the system. A simple model is presented to provide insight into these observations.

Graphical abstract: Measurement of nonlinear rheology of cross-linked biopolymer gels

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Article information

23 Apr 2010
17 Jun 2010
First published
07 Jul 2010

Soft Matter, 2010,6, 4120-4127
Article type

Measurement of nonlinear rheology of cross-linked biopolymer gels

C. P. Broedersz, K. E. Kasza, L. M. Jawerth, S. Münster, D. A. Weitz and F. C. MacKintosh, Soft Matter, 2010, 6, 4120
DOI: 10.1039/C0SM00285B

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