Direct link between mechanical stability in gels and percolation of isostatic particles

Hideyo Tsurusawa, Mathieu Leocmach, John Russo, Hajime Tanaka*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

66 Citations (Scopus)
193 Downloads (Pure)


Colloidal gels have unique mechanical and transport properties that stem from their bicontinuous nature, in which a colloidal network is intertwined with a viscous solvent, and have found numerous applications in foods, cosmetics, and construction materials and for medical applications, such as cartilage replacements. So far, our understanding of the process of colloidal gelation is limited to long-time dynamical effects, where gelation is viewed as a phase separation process interrupted by the glass transition. However, this purely out-of-equilibrium thermodynamic picture does not address the emergence of mechanical stability. With confocal microscopy experiments, we reveal that mechanical metastability is reached only after isotropic percolation of locally isostatic environments, establishing a direct link between the load-bearing ability of gels and the isostaticity condition. Our work suggests an operative description of gels based on mechanical equilibrium and isostaticity, providing the physical basis for the stability and rheology of these materials.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbereaav6090
Number of pages8
JournalScience Advances
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 31 May 2019


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