Network topology in soft gels: hardening and softening materials

Mehdi Bouzid, Emanuela Del Gado

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

The structural complexity of soft gels is at the origin of a versatile mechanical response that allows for large deformations, controlled elastic recovery and toughness in the same material. A limit to exploiting the potential of such materials is the insufficient fundamental understanding of the microstructural origin of the bulk mechanical properties. Here we investigate the role of the network topology in a model gel through 3D numerical simulations. Our study links the topology of the network organization in space to its non-linear rheological response preceding yielding and damage: our analysis elucidates how the network connectivity alone could be used to modify the gel mechanics at large strains, from strain-softening to hardening and even to a brittle response. These findings provide new insight for smart material design and for understanding the non-trivial mechanical response of a potentially wide range of technologically relevant materials.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)773-781
Number of pages9
Issue number3
Early online date18 Oct 2017
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jan 2018

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • cond-mat.soft


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