Jump to main content
Jump to site search

Issue 7, 2010
Previous Article Next Article

Heat transfer in proteinwater interfaces

Author affiliations


We investigate using transient non-equilibrum molecular dynamics simulation the temperature relaxation process of three structurally different proteins in water, namely; myoglobin, green fluorescence protein (GFP) and two conformations of the Ca2+-ATPase protein. By modeling the temperature relaxation process using the solution of the heat diffusion equation we compute the thermal conductivity and thermal diffusivity of the proteins, as well as the thermal conductance of the proteinwater interface. Our results indicate that the temperature relaxation of the protein can be described using a macroscopic approach. The proteinwater interface has a thermal conductance of the order of 100–270 MW K−1 m−2, characteristic of water–hydrophilic interfaces. The thermal conductivity of the proteins is of the order of 0.1–0.2 W K−1 m−1 as compared with ≈0.6 W K−1 m−1 for water, suggesting that these proteins can develop temperature gradients within the biomolecular structures that are larger than those of aqueous solutions. We find that the thermal diffusivity of the transmembrane protein, Ca2+-ATPase is about three times larger than that of myoglobin or GFP. Our simulation shows that the Kapitza length of these structurally different proteins is of the order of 1 nm, showing that the proteinwater interface should play a major role in defining the thermal relaxation of biomolecules.

Graphical abstract: Heat transfer in protein–water interfaces

Back to tab navigation

Publication details

The article was received on 08 Sep 2009, accepted on 03 Dec 2009 and first published on 11 Jan 2010

Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/B918607G
Citation: Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys., 2010,12, 1610-1617
  •   Request permissions

    Heat transfer in proteinwater interfaces

    A. Lervik, F. Bresme, S. Kjelstrup, D. Bedeaux and J. Miguel Rubi, Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys., 2010, 12, 1610
    DOI: 10.1039/B918607G

Search articles by author