Measuring compressibility in the optima AUC™ analytical ultracentrifuge

Marielle Stoutjesdyk, Emre Brookes, Amy Henrickson, Borries Demeler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A method is described to accurately measure the compressibility of liquids using an analytical ultracentrifuge. The method makes use of very large pressure gradients, which can be generated in the analytical ultracentrifuge at high speeds to induce a maximum compression signal. Taking advantage of the new Optima AUC, which offers 10 micron radial resolution, a novel calibration centerpiece for measuring rotor stretch, and a speed-ramping procedure, even the weak compressibility of liquids like water, typically considered to be incompressible, could be detected. A model using the standard expression for the secant-average bulk modulus describing the relative compression of a liquid in the analytical ultracentrifuge is derived. The model is a function of the loading volume and the hydrostatic pressure generated in the analytical ultracentrifuge, as well as the secant-average bulk modulus. The compressibility of water and toluene were measured and the linear secant-average bulk modulus and meniscus positions were fitted. In addition to the measurement of the compressibility of liquids, applications for this method include an improved prediction of boundary conditions for multi-speed analytical ultracentrifugation experiments to better describe highly heterogeneous systems with analytical speed-ramping procedures, and the prediction of radius-dependent density variations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)711-718
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Biophysics Journal
Issue number8
StatePublished - Dec 2020


  • Analytical ultracentrifuge
  • Bulk modulus
  • Compressibility
  • Numerical modeling


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