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Scientists Discover New Structural Features Of Human Hair

An international staff of scientists – led by Dr Vesna Stanic of the Brazilian Synchrotron Mild Supply – has detected new structural options of human hair.

False-color micrograph of human hair cross-part: the top area shows the exterior part of the hair – cuticle region; the bottom region reveals the internal macrofibrils – cortex area. extensions Image credit score: Fabiano Emmanuel Montoro / LNNano / CNPEM.

“Human hair is primarily composed of keratin molecules arranged in hierarchical construction, where the fundamental constructing block is named an intermediated filament,” Dr Stanic said.

Whereas learning materials used for hair treatments, Dr Stanic and her colleagues questioned what effect these remedies have been having on the diffraction pattern of the hair.

Though diffraction patterns have been examined and reported in several publications up to now, they concerned bundles of hair fibers or microdiffraction on single hair fibers; and, most significantly, the X-ray beam was all the time oriented perpendicular to the hair fiber axis.

So the scientists decided to take a more in-depth look on the diffraction pattern of the hair by measuring it with an X-ray beam aimed parallel to the hair axis.

Through the use of a sub-micron X-ray beam and transmission electron microscopy, they had been in a position to spatially resolve the native structure of the three foremost regions of the human hair: the hair loss in back of head medulla, the cortex and the cuticle.

The researchers performed a full diffraction map from a 30 micron thick cross-part of hair, with the incident beam parallel to the hair axis and compared it to the diffraction map with the beam perpendicular to the hair axis.

“We discovered that as one strikes the X-ray beam from the exterior of the hair to the medulla, the association of the keratin fibrils become increasingly disordered. The mixture of the sub-micron X-ray beam and the cross-section geometry permits us to detect a new structural features not previously observed,” Dr Stanic stated.

They found that inside the cuticle a key diffraction function of the alpha keratin is absent – indicating the presence of beta keratin instead of the alpha keratin part.

Until now, it was believed that keratin in the entire hair had solely an alpha conformation.
“The examine offers irrefutable experimental evidence of the hair phase variation across the three predominant regions of hair and is an important step toward gaining a better understanding of hierarchical ordering of the intermediate filaments of keratin,” Dr Stanic stated.

“It additionally highlights the significance of utilizing a submicron X-ray beam to unravel the constructions of poorly ordered, multiphase methods reminiscent of hair.”

Dr Stanic and co-authors imagine the cosmetics business will benefit from their findings, which were presented on Wednesday, July twenty ninth at the American Crystallographic Affiliation 2015 Assembly in Philadelphia.


Vesna Stanic et al. Sub-micron X-ray Beam Examine of Human Hair.