Rafea Naffa

Doctor of Philosophy, (Biochemistry)
Study Completed: 2017
College of Sciences


Thesis Title
Understanding the Molecular Basis of the Strength Differences in Skins Used in Leather Manufacture

Read article at Massey Research Online: MRO icon

Mr Naffa undertook a comprehensive study of the molecular components of four animal skins commonly used to manufacture shoes, clothing and furniture in order to identify a common indicator of skin strength. The molecular architecture of the protein components of each skin was analysed using polarising, confocal and transmission-electron microscopy (TEM), small angle X-ray scattering and amino-acid and cross-link analysis. Glycosaminoglycans were quantified and visualised using TEM, and total carbohydrate and lipid content were measured using a colorimetric assay and thin layer chromatography respectively. Differences in these properties were then related to the different physical characteristics of each skin. Results showed that an individual mechanical property of skin such as tensile strength is complex and related to different combinations of the molecular properties. The relationship between the molecular structure of skin and its mechanical functions is complex, arising from different combinations of molecular features rather than just one.

Associate Professor Gill Norris
Dr Meekyung Ahn
Professor Richard Haverkamp