Solvent control of crack dynamics in a reversible hydrogel

Abstract : The resistance to fracture of reversible biopolymer hydrogels is an important control factor of the cutting/slicing and eating characteristics of food gels. It is also critical for their utilization in tissue engineering, for which mechanical protection of encapsulated components is needed. Its dependence on loading rate and, recently, on the density and strength of cross-links has been investigated. But no attention was paid so far to solvent nor to environment effects. Here we report a systematic study of crack dynamics in gels of gelatin in water/glycerol mixtures. We show on this model system that: (i) increasing solvent viscosity slows down cracks; (ii) soaking with solvent increases markedly gel fragility; (iii) tuning the viscosity of the (miscible) environmental liquid affects crack propagation via diffusive invasion of the crack tip vicinity. The results point toward the fact that fracture occurs by viscoplastic chain pull-out. This mechanism, as well as the related phenomenology, should be common to all reversibly cross-linked (physical) gels.
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Contributor : Tristan Baumberger <>
Submitted on : Monday, May 15, 2006 - 4:13:15 PM
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Tristan Baumberger, Christiane Caroli, David Martina. Solvent control of crack dynamics in a reversible hydrogel. Nature Materials, Nature Publishing Group, 2006, 5, pp.552. ⟨10.1038/nmat1666⟩. ⟨hal-00068459⟩



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