The microstructural basis of the characteristic nonlinear mechanics of biopolymernetworks remains unclear. We present a 3D network model of realistic, cross-linked semiflexible fibers to study strain-stiffening and the effect of fiber volume-occupancy. We identify two structural parameters, namely, network connectivity and fiber entanglements, that fully govern the nonlinear response from small to large strains. The results also reveal distinct deformation mechanisms at different length scales and, in particular, the contributions of heterogeneity at short length scales.
Kurniawan, N. A., Enemark, S., & Rajagopalan, R. (2012). The role of structure in the nonlinear mechanics of cross-linked semiflexible polymer networks. Journal of Chemical Physics, 136, 1-9. . https://doi.org/10.1063/1.3682779