(294g) Compression-Induced Stiffening in Biopolymer Networks with Embedded Particles | AIChE

(294g) Compression-Induced Stiffening in Biopolymer Networks with Embedded Particles


MacKintosh, F., Rice University
Feng, J., Rice University
van Oosten, A., Leiden University
Levine, H., Northeastern University
Janmey, P. A., University of Pennsylvania
Tissues commonly consist of cells embedded within a fibrous biopolymer network. Whereas cell-free reconstituted biopolymer networks typically soften under applied uniaxial compression, various tissues, including liver, brain, and fat, have been observed to instead stiffen when compressed. The mechanism for this compression-stiffening effect is not yet clear. Here, we demonstrate that when a material composed of stiff inclusions embedded in a fibrous network is compressed, heterogeneous rearrangement of the inclusions can induce tension within the interstitial network, leading to a macroscopic crossover from an initial bending-dominated softening regime to a stretching-dominated stiffening regime, which occurs before and independently of jamming of the inclusions. Using a coarse-grained particle-network model, we first establish a phase diagram for compression-driven, stretching-dominated stress propagation and jamming in uniaxially compressed two- and three-dimensional systems. Then, we demonstrate that a more detailed computational model of stiff inclusions in a subisostatic semiflexible fiber network exhibits quantitative agreement with the predictions of our coarse-grained model as well as qualitative agreement with experiments.