Publications by authors named "Melle T J J M Punter"

6 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Nonmonotonic swelling and compression dynamics of hydrogels in polymer solutions.

Phys Rev E 2020 Dec;102(6-1):062606

Department of Mechanical Engineering, Materials Technology, Eindhoven University of Technology, 5600MB Eindhoven, Netherlands.

Hydrogels are sponge-like materials that can absorb or expel significant amounts of water. Swelling up from a dried state, they can swell up more than a hundredfold in volume, with the kinetics and the degree of swelling depending sensitively on the physicochemical properties of both the polymer network and the aqueous solvent. In particular, the presence of dissolved macromolecules in the background liquid can have a significant effect, as the macromolecules can exert an additional external osmotic pressure on the hydrogel material, thereby reducing the degree of swelling. In this paper, we have submerged dry hydrogel particles in polymer solutions containing large and small macromolecules. Interestingly, for swelling in the presence of large macromolecules we observe a concentration-dependent overshoot behavior, where the particle volume first continuously increases toward a maximum, after which it decreases again, reaching a lower, equilibrium value. In the presence of smaller macromolecules we do not observe this intriguing overshoot behavior, but instead observe a rapid growth followed by a slowed-down growth. To account for the observed overshoot behavior, we realize that the macromolecules entering the hydrogel network not only lead to a reduction of the osmotic pressure difference, but their presence within the network also affects the swelling behavior through a modification of the solvent-polymer interactions. In this physical picture of the swelling process, the net amount of volume change should thus depend on the magnitudes of both the reduction in osmotic pressure and the change in effective solvent quality associated with the macromolecules entering the pores of the hydrogel network. We develop a phenomenological model that incorporates both of these effects. Using this model we are able to account for both the swelling and compression kinetics of hydrogels within aqueous polymer solutions, as a function of the size of the dissolved macromolecules and of their effect on the effective solvent quality.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevE.102.062606DOI Listing
December 2020

Compression and swelling of hydrogels in polymer solutions: A dominant-mode model.

Phys Rev E 2020 Dec;102(6-1):062607

Institute AMOLF, Theory of Biomolecular Matter, Science Park 104, 1098XG Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

The swelling and compression of hydrogels in polymer solutions can be understood by considering hydrogel-osmolyte-solvent interactions which determine the osmotic pressure difference between the inside and the outside of a hydrogel particle and the changes in effective solvent quality for the hydrogel network. Using the theory of poroelasticity, we find the exact solution to hydrogel dynamics in a dilute polymer solution, which quantifies the effect of diffusion and partitioning of osmolyte and the related solvent quality change to the volumetric changes of the hydrogel network. By making a dominant-mode assumption, we propose a model for the swelling and compression dynamics of (spherical) hydrogels in concentrated polymer solutions. Osmolyte diffusion induces a biexponential response in the size of the hydrogel radius, whereas osmolyte partitioning and solvent quality effects induce monoexponential responses. Comparison of the dominant-mode model to experiments provides reasonable values for the compressive bulk modulus of a hydrogel particle, the permeability of the hydrogel network, and the diffusion constant of osmolyte molecules inside the hydrogel network. Our model shows that hydrogel-osmolyte interactions can be described in a conceptually simple manner, while still capturing the rich (de)swelling behaviors observed in experiments. We expect our approach to provide a roadmap for further research into and applications of hydrogel dynamics induced by, for example, changes in the temperature and the pH.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevE.102.062607DOI Listing
December 2020

Poroelasticity of (bio)polymer networks during compression: theory and experiment.

Soft Matter 2020 Feb 10;16(5):1298-1305. Epub 2020 Jan 10.

AMOLF, Theory of Biomolecular Matter, Science Park 104, 1098XG Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Soft living tissues like cartilage can be considered as biphasic materials comprising a fibrous complex biopolymer network and a viscous background liquid. Here, we show by a combination of experiment and theoretical analysis that both the hydraulic permeability and the elastic properties of (bio)polymer networks can be determined with simple ramp compression experiments in a commercial rheometer. In our approximate closed-form solution of the poroelastic equations of motion, we find the normal force response during compression as a combination of network stress and fluid pressure. Choosing fibrin as a biopolymer model system with controllable pore size, measurements of the full time-dependent normal force during compression are found to be in excellent agreement with the theoretical calculations. The inferred elastic response of large-pore (μm) fibrin networks depends on the strain rate, suggesting a strong interplay between network elasticity and fluid flow. Phenomenologically extending the calculated normal force into the regime of nonlinear elasticity, we find strain-stiffening of small-pore (sub-μm) fibrin networks to occur at an onset average tangential stress at the gel-plate interface that depends on the polymer concentration in a power-law fashion. The inferred permeability of small-pore fibrin networks scales approximately inverse squared with the fibrin concentration, implying with a microscopic cubic lattice model that the number of protofibrils per fibrin fiber cross-section decreases with protein concentration. Our theoretical model provides a new method to obtain the hydraulic permeability and the elastic properties of biopolymer networks and hydrogels with simple compression experiments, and paves the way to study the relation between fluid flow and elasticity in biopolymer networks during dynamical compression.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1039/c9sm01973aDOI Listing
February 2020

Gravity-driven syneresis in model low-fat mayonnaise.

Soft Matter 2019 Nov;15(46):9474-9481

Physical Chemistry and Soft Matter, Wageningen University and Research, Stippeneng 4, 6708 WE, Wageningen, The Netherlands.

Low-fat food products often contain natural, edible polymers to retain the desired mouth feel and elasticity of their full-fat counterparts. This type of product, however, can suffer from syneresis: densification due to the expulsion of fluid. Gaining insight into the physical principles governing syneresis in such soft hybrid dispersions remains a challenge from a theoretical perspective, as experimental data are needed to establish a basis. We record non-accelerated syneresis in a model system for low-fat mayonnaise: a colloid polymer mixture, consisting of oil in water emulsion with starch in the aqueous phase. We find the flow rate of expelled fluid to be proportional to the difference in hydrostatic pressure over the system. The osmotic pressure of the added starch, while being higher than the hydrostatic pressure, does not prevent syneresis because the soluble starch is lost to the expelled fluid. From these findings, we conclude that forced syneresis in these systems can be described as a gravity-driven porous flow through the densely packed emulsion, explainable with a model based on Darcy's law.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1039/c9sm01097aDOI Listing
November 2019

Compression and Reswelling of Microgel Particles after an Osmotic Shock.

Phys Rev Lett 2017 Sep 31;119(9):098001. Epub 2017 Aug 31.

Institute for Complex Molecular Systems, Eindhoven University of Technology, 5600MB Eindhoven, The Netherlands.

We use dedicated microfluidic devices to expose soft hydrogel particles to a rapid change in the externally applied osmotic pressure and observe a surprising, nonmonotonic response: After an initial rapid compression, the particle slowly reswells to approximately its original size. We theoretically account for this behavior, enabling us to extract important material properties from a single microfluidic experiment, including the compressive modulus, the gel permeability, and the diffusivity of the osmolyte inside the gel. We expect our approach to be relevant to applications such as controlled release, chromatography, and responsive materials.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevLett.119.098001DOI Listing
September 2017

Self-Assembly Dynamics of Linear Virus-Like Particles: Theory and Experiment.

J Phys Chem B 2016 07 5;120(26):6286-97. Epub 2016 May 5.

Theory of Polymers and Soft Matter, Eindhoven University of Technology , PO Box 513, 5600 MB Eindhoven, The Netherlands.

We experimentally and theoretically studied the self-assembly kinetics of linear virus-like particles (VLPs) consisting of double-stranded DNA and virus-like coat proteins. The polynucleotide acts as a self-assembly template for our proteins with engineered attractive protein-DNA and protein-protein interactions that imitate the physicochemical functionality of virus coat proteins. Inspired by our experimental observations, where we found that VLPs grow from one point onward, our model presumes a nucleation step before subsequent sequential cooperative binding from one of the ends of the polynucleotide. By numerically solving the pertinent reaction rate equations, we investigated the assembly dynamics as a function of the ratio between the number of available binding sites and proteins in the solution, i.e., the stoichiometry of the molecular building blocks. Depending on the stoichiometry, we found monotonic or nonmonotonic assembly kinetics. If the proteins in the solution vastly outnumber the binding sites on all of the polynucleotides, then the assembly kinetics were strictly monotonic and the assembled fraction increases steadily with time. However, if the concentration of proteins and binding sites is equal, then we found an overshoot in the concentration of fully covered polynucleotides. We compared our model with length distributions of two types of VLPs measured by atomic force microscopy imaging and found satisfactory agreement, suggesting that a relatively simple model may be useful in describing the assembly kinetics of chemically complex systems. We furthermore re-evaluated data by Hernandez-Garcia et al. (Nat. Nanotechnol. 2014, 9, 698-702) to include the effect of a finite protein concentration previously ignored. By fitting our model to the experimental data, we were able to pinpoint the sum of the protein-protein and protein-DNA interaction free energies, the binding rate of a protein to the DNA, and the nucleation free energy associated with switching a protein from the solution to the bound conformation. The values that we found for the VLPs are comparable to virus capsid binding energies of linear and spherical viruses.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acs.jpcb.6b02680DOI Listing
July 2016
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