Observation of Protein Thermodynamics in Ice by Passive Millimeter-Wave Microscopy

  • Manabu Ishino
  • Akio KishigamiEmail author
  • Hiroyuki Kudo
  • Jongsuck Bae
  • Tatsuo Nozokido


The study of protein functions attributed to the conformation and fluctuation that are ruled by both the amino acid sequence and thermodynamics requires thermodynamic quantities given by calorimetry using thermometric techniques. The increased need for protein function in different applications requires improvements of measurement systems assessing protein thermodynamics to handle many kinds of samples quickly. We have developed a passive millimeter-wave microscope that allows near-field imaging of thermal radiation, even at temperature below room temperature where passive infrared imaging systems are ineffective. This advantage of our microscope system in combination with low thermal emission property of water ice in the millimeter-wave region enables the characterization of the thermal radiation from the proteins themselves in aqueous solution at a temperature range low enough to freeze water and to trap conformation intermediates in the proteins. Experiments performed at a millimeter-wave frequency of 50 GHz in a temperature range from 130 to 270 K for a 20% bovine serum albumin (BSA) aqueous solution showed a displacement between two conformational states of BSA at a temperature of approximately 190 K as a boundary. Our microscope system using this freeze-trapping method is expected to provide noninvasive thermal images to enable novel high-throughput calorimetry useful for the analysis of protein functions.


Millimeter wave Passive millimeter-wave microscopy Calorimetry Protein thermodynamics 


Funding Information

This work was supported in part by JSPS KAKENHI Grant Nos. 16K14684, 15H04016, and 18H01450.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Graduate School of Science and Engineering for ResearchUniversity of ToyamaToyamaJapan
  2. 2.Department of Health and Nutrition, Faculty of Home EconomicsGifu Women’s UniversityGifuJapan
  3. 3.Division of Information Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, Information and SystemsUniversity of TsukubaTsukubaJapan
  4. 4.Department of Physical Science and EngineeringNagoya Institute of TechnologyNagoyaJapan

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