We investigate the thermal gelation of egg white proteins at different temperatures with varying salt concentrations using x-ray photon correlation spectroscopy in the geometry of ultra-small angle x-ray scattering. Temperature-dependent structural investigation suggests a faster network formation with increasing temperature, and the gel adopts a more compact network, which is inconsistent with the conventional understanding of thermal aggregation. The resulting gel network shows a fractal dimension δ, ranging from 1.5 to 2.2. The values of δ display a non-monotonic behavior with increasing amount of salt. The corresponding dynamics in the q range of 0.002–0.1 nm−1 is observable after major change of the gel structure. The extracted relaxation time exhibits a two-step power law growth in dynamics as a function of waiting time. In the first regime, the dynamics is associated with structural growth, whereas the second regime is associated with the aging of the gel, which is directly linked with its compactness, as quantified by the fractal dimension. The gel dynamics is characterized by a compressed exponential relaxation with a ballistic-type of motion. The addition of salt gradually makes the early stage dynamics faster. Both gelation kinetics and microscopic dynamics show that the activation energy barrier in the system systematically decreases with increasing salt concentration.
Effects of temperature and ionic strength on the microscopic structure and dynamics of egg white gels
Nafisa Begam, Sonja Timmermann, Anastasia Ragulskaya, Anita Girelli, Maximilian D. Senft, Sebastian Retzbach, Nimmi Das Anthuparambil, Mohammad Sayed Akhundzadeh, Marvin Kowalski, Mario Reiser, Fabian Westermeier, Michael Sprung, Fajun Zhang, Christian Gutt, Frank Schreiber; Effects of temperature and ionic strength on the microscopic structure and dynamics of egg white gels. J. Chem. Phys. 21 February 2023; 158 (7): 074903. https://doi.org/10.1063/5.0130758
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