Hydrogen bonding-assisted thermal conduction in beta-sheet crystals of spider silk protein

L Zhang and TL Chen and H Ban and L Liu, NANOSCALE, 6, 7786-7791 (2014).

DOI: 10.1039/c4nr01195c

Using atomistic simulations, we demonstrate that beta-sheet, an essential component of spider silk protein, has a thermal conductivity 1-2 orders of magnitude higher than that of some other protein structures reported in the literature. In contrast to several other nanostructured materials of similar bundled/layered structures (e. g. few-layer graphene and bundled carbon nanotubes), the beta-sheet is found to uniquely feature enhanced thermal conductivity with an increased number of constituting units, i.e. beta-strands. Phonon analysis identifies inter-beta-strand hydrogen bonding as the main contributor to the intriguing phenomenon, which prominently influences the state of phonons in both low-and high-frequency regimes. A thermal resistance model further verifies the critical role of hydrogen bonding in thermal conduction through b-sheet structures.

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