Letter | Published:

Rapid Observation of Phase Transformations in Fibrous Proteins using an X-Ray Diffractometer

Nature volume 180, pages 802803 (19 October 1957) | Download Citation



MANY naturally occurring fibrous materials possess X-ray diffraction patterns with few diffuse and ill-defined spots which defy precise analysis. Nevertheless, phase transitions involving such materials have been extensively studied and a great deal is known about them. Wool keratin, being of great technological importance, has been the subject of many investigations1. Of particular interest in the molecular biology of wool keratin are the time-dependent parameters of creep and relaxation and their relation to the stable α and β phases2. Little is known of the molecular changes involved during the simple process of stretching a fibre, and the interpretative difficulties are formidable if we must accept the coiled helical system (α) and a simple planar system (β)3 as the two stable states in the reversible a αβ transformation.

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  1. 1.

    , and , “Wool: Its Chemistry and Physics” (Chapman and Hall, Ltd., London, 1954).

  2. 2.

    “Mechanical Properties of Textile Fibres”. Ed. Meridith, R. (North Holland Publishing Co., Amsterdam, 1956).

  3. 3.

    , and , Nature, 171, 59 (1953); Proc. U.S. Nat. Acad. Sci., 37, 729 (1951).

  4. 4.

    , “Analytical Chemistry”, 25, 708 (1953); , J. Electron., 1, 487 (1956).

  5. 5.

    , and , Rev. Sci. Inst., 7, 456 (1936).

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  1. Textile Physics Research Laboratory, University of Leeds. June 8.

    • A. R. B. SKERTCHLY


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