Non-linear viscoelasticity of hagfish slime

Randy H. Ewoldt, Timothy M. Winegard, Douglas S. Fudge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We report here the first experimental measurements of non-linear rheological material properties of hagfish slime, a hydrated biopolymer/biofiber network, and develop a microstructural constitutive model to explain the observed non-linear viscoelastic behavior. The linear elastic modulus of the network is observed to be G′≈0.02Pa for timescales 0.1s≤t≤10s, making it one of the softest elastic biomaterials known. Non-linear rheology is examined via simple shear deformation, and we observe a secant elastic modulus which strain-softens at large input strain while the local tangent elastic modulus strain-stiffens simultaneously. This juxtaposition of simultaneous softening and stiffening suggests a general network structure composed of non-linear elastic strain-stiffening elements, here modeled as finite extensible non-linear elastic (FENE) springs, in which network connections are destroyed as elements are stretched. We simulate the network model in oscillatory shear and creep, including instrument effects from rotational inertia. The network model captures the simultaneous softening of the secant modulus and stiffening of tangent modulus as the model enters the non-linear viscoelastic regime.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)627-636
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Non-Linear Mechanics
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 1 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Biopolymer gel
  • Finite extensible non-linear elastic (FENE)
  • Inertio-elastic oscillations
  • Intermediate filaments
  • Mucus
  • Polymer network theory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Applied Mathematics


Dive into the research topics of 'Non-linear viscoelasticity of hagfish slime'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this