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Issue 31, 2012
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Non-affine deformations in polymer hydrogels

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Most theories of soft matter elasticity assume that the local strain in a sample after deformation is identical everywhere and equal to the macroscopic strain, or equivalently that the deformation is affine. We discuss the elasticity of hydrogels of crosslinked polymers with special attention to affine and non-affine theories of elasticity. Experimental procedures to measure non-affine deformations are also described. Entropic theories, which account for gel elasticity based on stretching out individual polymer chains, predict affine deformations. In contrast, simulations of network deformation that result in bending of the stiff constituent filaments generally predict non-affine behavior. Results from experiments show significant non-affine deformation in hydrogels even when they are formed by flexible polymers for which bending would appear to be negligible compared to stretching. However, this finding is not necessarily an experimental proof of the non-affine model for elasticity. We emphasize the insights gained from experiments using confocal rheoscope and show that, in addition to filament bending, sample micro-inhomogeneity can be a significant alternative source of non-affine deformation.

Graphical abstract: Non-affine deformations in polymer hydrogels

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Publication details

The article was received on 17 Feb 2012, accepted on 10 Apr 2012 and first published on 11 May 2012

Article type: Review Article
DOI: 10.1039/C2SM25364J
Soft Matter, 2012,8, 8039-8049

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    Non-affine deformations in polymer hydrogels

    Q. Wen, A. Basu, P. A. Janmey and A. G. Yodh, Soft Matter, 2012, 8, 8039
    DOI: 10.1039/C2SM25364J

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