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J Chem Phys. 2009 Feb 14;130(6):061102. doi: 10.1063/1.3078267.

From thermally activated to viscosity controlled fracture of biopolymer hydrogels.

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INSP, UPMC Univ Paris 06, CNRS UMR 7588, 140 rue de Lourmel, 75015 Paris, France.


We report on rate-dependent fracture energy measurements over three decades of steady crack velocities in alginate and gelatin hydrogels. We evidence that irrespective of gel thermoreversibility, thermally activated "unzipping" of the noncovalent cross-link zones results in slow crack propagation, prevailing against the toughening effect of viscous solvent drag during chain pull-out, which becomes efficient above a few mm s(-1). We extend a previous model [T. Baumberger et al., Nat. Mater. 5, 552 (2006)] to account for both mechanisms and estimate the microscopic unzipping rates.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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