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Scientists Discover New Structural Options Of Human Hair

A world crew of scientists – led by Dr Vesna Stanic of the Brazilian Synchrotron Mild Supply – has detected new structural options of human hair.

False-coloration micrograph of human hair cross-part: the highest region reveals the exterior a part of the hair – cuticle region; the underside area exhibits the interior macrofibrils – cortex area. extensions Picture credit score: Fabiano Emmanuel Montoro / LNNano / CNPEM.

“Human hair is primarily composed of keratin molecules organized in hierarchical structure, the place the elemental constructing block is known as an intermediated filament,” Dr Stanic said.

Whereas learning supplies used for hair therapies, Dr Stanic and her colleagues questioned what impact these therapies were having on the diffraction pattern of the hair.

Although diffraction patterns have been examined and reported in several publications in the past, they involved 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 determined to take a better look at the diffraction sample of the how take care of hair hair by measuring it with an X-ray beam aimed parallel to the hair axis.

By using a sub-micron X-ray beam and transmission electron microscopy, they have been able to spatially resolve the local structure of the three principal areas of the human hair: the 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 arrangement of the keratin fibrils turn into increasingly disordered. The combination 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 discovered that throughout the cuticle a key diffraction feature of the alpha keratin is absent – indicating the presence of beta keratin as an alternative of the alpha keratin phase.

Until now, it was believed that keratin in the whole hair had solely an alpha conformation.
“The study gives irrefutable experimental evidence of the hair part variation across the three main regions of hair and is a vital step towards gaining a greater understanding of hierarchical ordering of the intermediate filaments of keratin,” Dr Stanic mentioned.

“It additionally highlights the significance of utilizing a submicron X-ray beam to unravel the structures of poorly ordered, multiphase how take care of hair programs equivalent to hair.”

Dr Stanic and co-authors believe the cosmetics trade will profit from their findings, which were introduced on Wednesday, July 29th on the American Crystallographic Affiliation 2015 Assembly in Philadelphia.


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