Replacing Nitrogen by Sulfur: From Structurally Disordered Eumelanins to Regioregular Thiomelanin Polymers.
ABSTRACT: The oxidative polymerization of 5,6-dihydroxybenzothiophene (DHBT), the sulfur analog of the key eumelanin building block 5,6-dihydroxyindole (DHI), was investigated to probe the role of nitrogen in eumelanin build-up and properties. Unlike DHI, which gives a typical black insoluble eumelanin polymer on oxidation, DHBT is converted to a grayish amorphous solid (referred to as thiomelanin) with visible absorption and electron paramagnetic resonance properties different from those of DHI melanin. Mass spectrometry experiments revealed gradational mixtures of oligomers up to the decamer level. Quite unexpectedly, nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) analysis of the early oligomer fractions indicated linear, 4-, and 7-linked structures in marked contrast with DHI, which gives highly complex mixtures of partially degraded oligomers. Density functional theory (DFT) calculations supported the tendency of DHBT to couple via the 4- and 7-positions. These results uncover the role of nitrogen as a major determinant of the structural diversity generated by the polymerization of DHI, and point to replacement by sulfur as a viable entry to regioregular eumelanin-type materials for potential applications for surface functionalization by dip coating.
Project description:Porous Si/eumelanin hybrids are a novel class of organic-inorganic hybrid materials that hold considerable promise for photovoltaic applications. Current progress toward device setup is, however, hindered by photocurrent stability issues, which require a detailed understanding of the mechanisms underlying the buildup and consolidation of the eumelanin-silicon interface. Herein we report an integrated experimental and computational study aimed at probing interface stability via surface modification and eumelanin manipulation, and at modeling the organic-inorganic interface via formation of a 5,6-dihydroxyindole (DHI) tetramer and its adhesion to silicon. The results indicated that mild silicon oxidation increases photocurrent stability via enhancement of the DHI-surface interaction, and that higher oxidation states in DHI oligomers create more favorable conditions for the efficient adhesion of growing eumelanin.
Project description:Eumelanins, the chief photoprotective pigments in man and mammals, owe their black color to an unusual broadband absorption spectrum whose origin is still a conundrum. Excitonic effects from the interplay of geometric order and disorder in 5,6-dihydroxyindole (DHI)-based oligomeric/polymeric structures play a central role, however the contributions of structural (scaffold-controlled) and redox (?-electron-controlled) disorder have remained uncharted. Herein, we report an integrated experimental-theoretical entry to eumelanin chromophore dynamics based on poly(vinyl alcohol)-controlled polymerization of a large set of 5,6-dihydroxyindoles and related dimers. The results a) uncover the impact of the structural scaffold on eumelanin optical properties, disproving the widespread assumption of a universal monotonic chromophore; b) delineate eumelanin chromophore buildup as a three-step dynamic process involving the rapid generation of oxidized oligomers, termed melanochromes (phase I), followed by a slow oxidant-independent band broadening (phase II) leading eventually to scattering (phase III); c) point to a slow reorganization-stabilization of melanochromes via intermolecular redox interactions as the main determinant of visible broadband absorption.
Project description:The recent development of eumelanin pigment-based blends integrating "classical" organic conducting materials is expanding the scope of eumelanin in bioelectronics. Beyond the achievement of high conductivity level, another major goal lays in the knowledge and feasible control of structure/properties relationship. We systematically investigated different hybrid materials prepared by in situ polymerization of the eumelanin precursor 5,6-dihydroxyindole (DHI) in presence of various amounts of graphene-like layers. Spectroscopic studies performed by solid state nuclear magnetic resonance (ss-NMR), x-ray photoemission, and absorption spectroscopies gave a strong indication of the direct impact that the integration of graphene-like layers into the nascent polymerized DHI-based eumelanin has on the structural organization of the pigment itself, while infrared, and photoemission spectroscopies indicated the occurrence of negligible changes as concerns the chemical units. A tighter packing of the constituent units could represent a strong factor responsible for the observed improved electrical conductivity of the hybrid materials, and could be possible exploited as a tool for electrical conductivity tuning.
Project description:A set of computational methods that contains a brute-force algorithmic generation of chemical isomers, molecular dynamics (MD) simulations, and density functional theory (DFT) calculations is reported and applied to investigate nearly 3000 probable molecular structures of polydopamine (PDA) and eumelanin. All probable early-polymerized 5,6-dihydroxyindole (DHI) oligomers, ranging from dimers to tetramers, have been systematically analyzed to find the most stable geometry connections as well as to propose a set of molecular models that represents the chemically diverse nature of PDA and eumelanin. Our results indicate that more planar oligomers have a tendency to be more stable. This finding is in good agreement with recent experimental observations, which suggested that PDA and eumelanin are composed of nearly planar oligomers that appear to be stacked together via ?-? interactions to form graphite-like layered aggregates. We also show that there is a group of tetramers notably more stable than the others, implying that even though there is an inherent chemical diversity in PDA and eumelanin, the molecular structures of the majority of the species are quite repetitive. Our results also suggest that larger oligomers are less likely to form. This observation is also consistent with experimental measurements, supporting the existence of small oligomers instead of large polymers as main components of PDA and eumelanin. In summary, this work brings an insight into the controversial structure of PDA and eumelanin, explaining some of the most important structural features, and providing a set of molecular models for more accurate modeling of eumelanin-like materials.
Project description:The origin of eumelanin optical properties remains a formidable conundrum preventing a detailed understanding of the complex photo-protective role of these widespread natural pigments and the rational design of innovative bioinspired materials for optoelectronic applications. Here we report the unusual kinetic and thickness-dependent evolution of the optical properties of black eumelanin polymers generated by spontaneous aerial polymerization of 5,6-dihydroxyindole (DHI) thin films (0.1-1??m), consistent with peculiar solid state reorganization mechanisms governing broadband absorption. The complete reversal of eumelanin UV-visible transmittance spectrum curvature on passing from 0.2 to 0.5??m thick films, the marked increase in visible extinction coefficients with increasing film thickness and the higher UV extinction coefficients in slowly vs. rapidly generated polymers concur to support distinct dynamic regimes of solid-state molecular reorganization at the nanoscale level and to do affect the development of broadband visible absorption. Solid state control of molecular reorganization disclosed herein may delineate new rational strategies for tuning optical properties in eumelanin thin films for optoelectronic applications.
Project description:The integration of the pristine not-doped commercial poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene):poly(styrenesulfonate) (PEDOT:PSS) PH1000 with eumelanin, the brown to black kind of melanin pigment, was achieved by dissolving the melanogenic precursors 2-carboxy-5,6-dihydroxyindole (DHICA) in the PH1000 suspension. Solid state oxidative polymerization of the catecholic indole allowed obtaining the ternary blend PEDOT:PSS/eumelanin. The introduction of DHICA into PH1000 produced a noticeable increase in the conductivity of PEDOT thin films akin to that produced by dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) treatment, opening up novel strategies for the simultaneous integration of eumelanin polymer and conductivity enhancement of PEDOT containing coatings, as well as the long term goal of replacing PSS by DHICA eumelanin for PEDOT pairing.
Project description:Hexamethylenediamine (HMDA) and other long chain aliphatic diamines can induce substrate-independent polymer film deposition from dopamine and several other catechols substrates at relatively low concentrations, however the mechanism of the diamine-promoted effect has remained little understood. Herein, we report data indicating that: (a) film deposition from 1 mM HMDA and dopamine is not affected by chemical oxidation with periodate but is markedly inhibited by resorcinol, which also prevents PDA film formation at 10 mM monomer concentration in the absence of HMDA; (b) N-acetylation of HMDA completely inhibits the effect on PDA film formation; (c) HMDA enables surface functionalization with 1 mM 5,6-dihydroxyindole (DHI) polymerization at pH 9.0 in a resorcinol-inhibitable manner. Structural investigation of the polymers produced from dopamine and DHI in the presence of HMDA using solid state 13C and 15N NMR and MALDI-MS suggested formation of covalent cross linked structures. It is concluded that HMDA enhances polydopamine adhesion by acting both on dopamine quinone and downstream, e.g., via covalent coupling with DHI. These results provide new insights into the mechanisms of PDA adhesion and disclose resorcinol as a new potent tool for targeting/mapping quinone intermediates and for controlling polymer growth.
Project description:Eumelanin is one of the most ubiquitous pigments in living organisms and plays an important role in coloration and UV protection. Because eumelanin is highly cross-linked and insoluble in solvents, the chemical structure is still not completely known. In this study, we used atomic force microscopy, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy and solid-state nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) to compare intact eumelanosomes (pigment granules mostly made of eumelanin) from four phylogentically distant species: cuttlefish (Sepia officinalis) inks, black fish crow (Corvus ossifragus) feathers, iridescent wild turkey (Melleagris gallopavo) feathers and black human hair. We found that eumelanosomes from all four species are composed of subunit nanoparticles with a length of 10-60 nm, consistent with earlier observations in eumelanosomes from the sepia ink and human hair. The solid-state NMR results indicate the presence of quinone methide tautomers in all four eumelanins. We also found clear differences in the UV absorbance, the ratio of 5,6-dihydroxyindole-2-carboxylic acid/5,6-dihydroxyindole and protonated aryl carbon ratios in sepia eumelanin relative to the other three. This comparison of natural eumelanin across a phylogenetically broad group of organisms provides insights into the change in the eumelanin structure over the evolutionary history and enables the production of synthetic eumelanin with properties that are similar to natural eumelanin.
Project description:In a previous study, we showed that the size of melanosomes isolated from Japanese female hairs enlarges with age, and this affects the hair color. In this study, we analyzed the age-dependent changes in hair melanin in order to further explore the factors related to hair color changing by aging. A significant positive correlation with age was found in the total melanin amount (TM) and the mol% of 5,6-dihydroxyindole (DHI) units, while no correlation was found in pheomelanin mol%. TM showed significant correlations with hair color parameters and the melanosome volume, suggesting that hair color darkening by aging is caused by the increase in TM due to the enlargement of the size of melanosome. From the measurement of absorbance spectra on synthetic eumelanins with different ratios of DHI and 5,6-dihydroxyindole-2-carboxylic acid (DHICA), we found that the increase in DHI mol% also contributes to the darkening of hair color by aging. In addition, the level of pyrrole-2,3-dicarboxylic acid (PDCA), a marker of DHI melanin, showed a significant negative correlation with the aspect ratio of melanosome, suggesting a contribution of DHI melanin to the change in melanosome morphology by aging.
Project description:A detailed computational investigation of the 5,6-dihydroxyindole (DHI)-based porphyrin-type tetramer first described by Kaxiras as a theoretical structural model for eumelanin biopolymers is reported herein, with a view to predicting the technological potential of this unique bioinspired tetracatechol system. All possible tautomers/conformers, as well as alternative protonation states, were explored for the species at various degrees of oxidation and all structures were geometry optimized at the density functional theory (DFT) level. Comparison of energy levels for each oxidized species indicated a marked instability of most oxidation states except the six-electron level, and an unexpected resilience to disproportionation of the one-electron oxidation free radical species. Changes in the highest energy occupied molecular orbital (HOMO)?lowest energy unoccupied molecular orbital (LUMO) gaps with oxidation state and tautomerism were determined along with the main electronic transitions: more or less intense absorption in the visible region is predicted for most oxidized species. Data indicated that the peculiar symmetry of the oxygenation pattern pertaining to the four catechol/quinone/quinone methide moieties, in concert with the NH centers, fine-tunes the optical and electronic properties of the porphyrin system. For several oxidation levels, conjugated systems extending over two or more indole units play a major role in determining the preferred tautomeric state: thus, the highest stability of the six-electron oxidation state reflects porphyrin-type aromaticity. These results provide new clues for the design of innovative bioinspired optoelectronic materials.