Mechanical Properties of Elastomeric Proteins
When we stretch and contract a rubber band a hundred times, we expect the rubber band to fail. Yet our heart stretches and contracts the same amount every two minutes, and does not fail. Why is that? What causes the significantly higher elasticity of certain molecules and the rigidity of others? Equally importantly, can we use this information to design materials for precise mechanical tasks? It is the aim of this dissertation to illuminate key aspects of the answer to these questions, while detailing the work that remains to be done.
In this dissertation, particular emphasis is placed on the nanoscale properties of elastomeric proteins. By better understanding the fundamental characteristics of these proteins at the nanoscale, we can better design synthetic rubbers to provide the same desired mechanical properties.