304 Molecular Structure & Dynamics of Spider Silk Proteins in Water

Thursday, November 5, 2009: 3:40 PM
Ballroom C+D (Camino Real Hotel)
Jeffery L. Yarger , Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ
Spider silk has exceptional mechanical properties in terms of tensile strength and breaking energy, and it is considered the basis of a new family of polymeric fibers synthesized completely in an aqueous solution. The molecular origin of the unique mechanical properties of spider silk is unclear. It is known that dragline silk is a semi-crystalline polymer, but the amount, composition, orientation, and structure of each of its phases remain the subject of research and debate. A range of molecular spectroscopy techniques, including NMR, x-ray, neutron and optical scattering are used to elucidate the structure and dynamics of natural silk fibers and synthetic constructs. These data suggest that it will be necessary to control the secondary structure of individual polymer molecules in order to obtain optimum properties in aqueous based bio-inspired polymers.