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Peptide backbone orientation and dynamics in spider dragline silk and two-photon excitation in nuclear magnetic and quadrupole resonance Eles, Philip Thomas


In the first part of the dissertation, spider dragline silk is studied by solid state NMR techniques. The dependence of NMR frequency on molecular orientation is exploited using the DECODER experiment to determine the orientation of the protein backbone within the silk fibre. Practical experimental considerations require that the silk fibres be wound about a cylindrical axis perpendicular to the external magnetic field, complicating the reconstruction of the underlying orientation distribution and necess-itating the development of numerical techniques for this purpose. A two-component model of silk incorporating static b-sheets and polyglycine II helices adequately fits the NMR data and suggests that the b-sheets are well aligned along the silk axis (20 FWHM) while the helices are poorly aligned (68 FWHM). The effects of fibre strain, draw rate and hydration on orientation are measured. Measurements of the time-scale for peptide backbone motion indicate that when wet, a strain-dependent frac-tion of the poorly aligned component becomes mobile. This suggests a mechanism for the supercontraction of silk involving latent entropic springs that undergo a local straindependent phase transition, driving supercontraction. In the second part of this dissertation a novel method is developed for exciting NMR and nuclear quadrupole resonance (NQR) by rf irradiation at multiple frequencies that sum to (or differ by) the resonance frequency. This is fundamentally different than traditional NMR experiments where irradiation is applied on-resonance. With excitation outside the detection bandwidth, two-photon excitation allows for detection of free induction signals during excitation, completely eliminating receiver dead-time. A theoretical approach to describing two-photon excitation is developed based on average Hamiltonian theory. An intuition for two-photon excitation is gained by analogy to the coherent absorption of multiple photons requiring conservation of total energy and momentum. It is shown that two-photon excitation efficiency impro-ves when the two applied rf frequencies deviate from half-resonance. For two-photon NQR, it is shown that observable magnetization appears perpendicular to the excita-tion coil, requiring a second coil for detection, and that double quantum coherences are also generated. Several model systems and experimental geometries are used to demonstrate the peculiarities of two-photon excitation in NMR and NQR.

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