Measurement of nonlinear rheology of cross-linked biopolymer gels

C.P. Broedersz, K. E. Kasza, L.M. Jawerth, S. Munster, D. A. Weitz, F.C. MacKintosh

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


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. © 2010 The Royal Society of Chemistry.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4120-4127
Number of pages8
JournalSoft Matter
Issue number17
Publication statusPublished - 2010


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