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Biomacromolecules. 2005 Nov-Dec;6(6):3037-44.

Alterations in physical cross-linking modulate mechanical properties of two-phase protein polymer networks.

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Department of Surgery, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia 30332, USA.


Physically cross-linked protein-based materials possess a number of advantages over their chemically cross-linked counterparts, including ease of processing and the ability to avoid the addition or removal of chemical reagents or unreacted intermediates. The investigations reported herein sought to examine the nature of physical cross-links within two-phase elastin-mimetic protein triblock copolymer networks through an analysis of macroscopic viscoelastic properties. Given the capacity of solution processing conditions, including solvent type and temperature to modulate the microstructure of two-phase protein polymer networks, viscoelastic properties were examined under conditions in which interphase block mixing had been either accentuated or diminished during network formation. Protein networks exhibited strikingly different properties in terms of elastic modulus, hysteresis, residual deformability, and viscosity in response to interdomain mixing. Thus, two-phase protein polymer networks exhibit tunable responses that extend the range of application of these materials to a variety of tissue engineering applications.

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