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Collagen Fibril Alignment and Deformation during Tensile Strain of Leather: A Small-Angle X-ray Scattering Study

Basil-Jones, Melissa M., Edmonds, Richard L., Norris, Gillian E., Haverkamp, Richard G.
Journal of agricultural and food chemistry 2012 v.60 no.5 pp. 1201-1208
X-radiation, collagen, deformation, leather, physical properties, spatial distribution
The distribution and effect of applied strain on the collagen fibrils that make up leather may have an important bearing on the ultimate strength and other physical properties of the material. While sections of ovine and bovine leather were being subjected to tensile strain up to rupture, synchrotron-based small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) spectra were recorded edge-on to the leather at points from the corium to the grain. Measurements of both fibril orientation and collagen d spacing showed that, initially, the fibers reorient under strain, becoming more aligned. As the strain increases (5–10% strain), further fibril reorientation diminishes until, at 37% strain, the d spacing increases by up to 0.56%, indicating that significant tensile forces are being transmitted to individual fibrils. These changes, however, are not uniform through the cross-section of leather and differ between leathers of different strengths. The stresses are taken up more evenly through the leather cross-section in stronger leathers in comparison to weaker leathers, where stresses tended to be concentrated during strain. These observations contribute to our understanding of the internal strains and structural changes that take place in leather under stress.