Mechanical properties of crosslinks controls failure mechanism of hierarchical intermediate filament networks

Zhao Qin, Markus J. Buehler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Intermediate filaments are one of the key components of the cytoskeleton in eukaryotic cells, and their mechanical properties are found to be equally important for physiological function and disease. While the mechanical properties of single full length filaments have been studied, how the mechanical properties of crosslinks affect the mechanical property of the intermediate filament network is not well understood. This paper applies a mesoscopic model of the intermediate network with varied crosslink strengths to investigate its failure mechanism under the extreme mechanical loading. It finds that relatively weaker crosslinks lead to a more flaw tolerant intermediate filament network that is also 23% stronger than the one with strong crosslinks. These findings suggest that the mechanical properties of interfacial components are critical for bioinspired designs which provide intriguing mechanical properties.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)14005
Number of pages1
JournalTheoretical and Applied Mechanics Letters
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • bioinspired design
  • crosslink strength
  • failure mechanism
  • flow tolerance
  • intermediate filament
  • protein network
  • rupture
  • soft material

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computational Mechanics
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Ocean Engineering
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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