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Fundamental considerations in the effect of molecular weight on the glass transition of the gelatin/cosolute system


  • This article was originally published online as an accepted preprint. The “Published Online” date corresponds to the preprint version. You can request a copy of the preprint by emailing the Biopolymers editorial office at biopolymers@wiley. com


Four molecular fractions of gelatin produced by alkaline hydrolysis of collagen were investigated in the presence of cosolute to record the mechanical properties of the glass transition in high-solid preparations. Dynamic oscillatory and stress relaxation moduli in shear were recorded from 40°C to temperatures as low as −60°C. The small-deformation behavior of these linear polymers was separated by the method of reduced variables into a basic function of time alone and a basic function of temperature alone. The former allowed the reduction of isothermal runs into a master curve covering 17 orders of magnitude in the time domain. The latter follows the passage from the rubbery plateau through the glass transition region to the glassy state seen in the variation of shift factor, aT, as a function of temperature. The mechanical glass transition temperature (Tg) is pinpointed at the operational threshold of the free volume theory and the predictions of the reaction rate theory. Additional insights into molecular dynamics are obtained via the coupling model of cooperativity, which introduces the concept of coupling constant or interaction strength of local segmental motions that govern structural relaxation at the vicinity of Tg. The molecular weight of the four gelatin fractions appears to have a profound effect on the transition temperature or coupling constant of vitrified matrices, as does the protein chemistry in relation to that of amorphous synthetic polymers or gelling polysaccharides. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Biopolymers 97: 303–310, 2012.