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Description of Test Setup and Approach to Measure Thermal Properties of Natural and Synthetic Spider Silks at Cryogenic Temperatures

[+] Author Affiliations
Troy Munro, Changhu Xing, Andrew Marquette, Heng Ban, Cameron Copeland, Randolph Lewis

Utah State University, Logan, UT

Paper No. IMECE2013-66630, pp. V08CT09A072; 6 pages
  • ASME 2013 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition
  • Volume 8C: Heat Transfer and Thermal Engineering
  • San Diego, California, USA, November 15–21, 2013
  • Conference Sponsors: ASME
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-5636-9
  • Copyright © 2013 by ASME


Spider silk is well-known for its exceptional mechanical properties, such as strength, elasticity and flexibility. Recently, it has been reported that dragline silk from a Nephila clavipes also has an exceptionally high thermal conductivity, comparable to copper when the fiber is stretched. Synthetic spider silks have been spun from spider silk proteins produced in transgenic sources, and their production process has the optimization potential to have properties similar to or better than the natural spider silk. There is interest to measure the thermal properties of natural and synthetic silk at cryogenic temperatures for use of spider silk fibers as heat conduits in systems where component weight is an issue, such as in spacecraft. This low temperature measurement is also of particular interest because of the conformational changes in protein structures, which affect material properties, that occurs at lower temperatures for some proteins. A measurement system has been designed and is being tested to characterize the thermal properties of natural and synthetic spider silks by means of a transient electrothermal method.

Copyright © 2013 by ASME



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