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Issue 21, 2009
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Dilute gels with exceptional rigidity from self-assembling silk-collagen-like block copolymers

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Abstract

Rheological data on monodisperse block copolymer hydrogels are rare because the amounts produced with various methods usually are not sufficient for materials testing. By biotechnological means, expression of a block copolymer encoding gene in the yeast Pichia pastoris, we produced enough protein block copolymer for a study of the macroscopic properties of several gels. To study the effect of block order on the mechanical properties of self-assembling block copolymer hydrogels, we tested gels of two molecules with complementary triblock organization: CSESEC and SECCSE, in which the SE block self assembles at low pH while the C block remains a random coil. Dynamic mechanical spectroscopy revealed differences in gelling kinetics and mechanical properties. The gels displayed non-linear elasticity comparable to that of actin gels and other networks of cross-linked semiflexible polymers. Moreover, exceptionally high storage moduli, exceeding 40 kPa, were reached already at concentrations as low as 1.5 wt%, without any additional crosslinking agent. Increasing the temperature of a CSESEC gel led to stiffening until 50 °C, above which it melted.

Graphical abstract: Dilute gels with exceptional rigidity from self-assembling silk-collagen-like block copolymers

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Publication details

The article was received on 15 Apr 2009, accepted on 28 Jul 2009 and first published on 21 Aug 2009


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/B907537B
Citation: Soft Matter, 2009,5, 4191-4197
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    Dilute gels with exceptional rigidity from self-assembling silk-collagen-like block copolymers

    A. A. Martens, J. van der Gucht, G. Eggink, F. A. de Wolf and M. A. Cohen Stuart, Soft Matter, 2009, 5, 4191
    DOI: 10.1039/B907537B

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