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Phys Rev Lett. 2003 Sep 5;91(10):108102. Epub 2003 Sep 5.

Deformation of cross-linked semiflexible polymer networks.

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Division of Physics & Astronomy, Vrije Universiteit, 1081 HV Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


Networks of filamentous proteins play a crucial role in cell mechanics. These cytoskeletal networks, together with various cross-linking and other associated proteins largely determine the (visco)elastic response of cells. In this Letter we study a model system of cross-linked, stiff filaments in order to explore the connection between the microstructure under strain and the macroscopic response of cytoskeletal networks. We find two distinct regimes as a function primarily of cross-link density and filament rigidity: one characterized by affine deformation and one by nonaffine deformation. We characterize the crossover between these two.

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