Eumelanin Graphene-Like Integration: The Impact on Physical Properties and Electrical Conductivity.
ABSTRACT: 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: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: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:Melanin denotes a variety of mammalian pigments, including the dark electrically conductive eumelanin and the reddish, sulfur-containing, pheomelanin. Organic (bio)electronics is showing increasing interests in eumelanin exploitation, e.g., for bio-interfaces, but the low conductivity of the material is limiting the development of eumelanin-based devices. Here, for the first time, we report an abrupt increase of the eumelanin electrical conductivity, revealing the highest value presented to date of 318 S/cm. This result, obtained via simple thermal annealing in vacuum of the material, designed on the base of the knowledge of the eumelanin chemical properties, also discloses the actual electronic nature of this material's conduction.
Project description:Eumelanin is a brown-black biological pigment with sunscreen and radical scavenging functions important to numerous organisms. Eumelanin is also a promising redox-active material for energy conversion and storage, but the chemical structures present in this heterogeneous pigment remain unknown, limiting understanding of the properties of its light-responsive subunits. Here, we introduce an ultrafast vibrational fingerprinting approach for probing the structure and interactions of chromophores in heterogeneous materials like eumelanin. Specifically, transient vibrational spectra in the double-bond stretching region are recorded for subsets of electronic chromophores photoselected by an ultrafast excitation pulse tuned through the UV-visible spectrum. All subsets show a common vibrational fingerprint, indicating that the diverse electronic absorbers in eumelanin, regardless of transition energy, contain the same distribution of IR-active functional groups. Aggregation of chromophores diverse in oxidation state is the key structural property underlying the universal, ultrafast deactivation behavior of eumelanin in response to photoexcitation with any wavelength.
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:Graphene films were produced by chemical vapor deposition (CVD) of pyridine on copper substrates. Pyridine-CVD is expected to lead to doped graphene by the insertion of nitrogen atoms in the growing sp(2) carbon lattice, possibly improving the properties of graphene as a transparent conductive film. We here report on the influence that the CVD parameters (i.e., temperature and gas flow) have on the morphology, transmittance, and electrical conductivity of the graphene films grown with pyridine. A temperature range between 930 and 1070 °C was explored and the results were compared to those of pristine graphene grown by ethanol-CVD under the same process conditions. The films were characterized by atomic force microscopy, Raman and X-ray photoemission spectroscopy. The optical transmittance and electrical conductivity of the films were measured to evaluate their performance as transparent conductive electrodes. Graphene films grown by pyridine reached an electrical conductivity of 14.3 × 10(5) S/m. Such a high conductivity seems to be associated with the electronic doping induced by substitutional nitrogen atoms. In particular, at 930 °C the nitrogen/carbon ratio of pyridine-grown graphene reaches 3%, and its electrical conductivity is 40% higher than that of pristine graphene grown from ethanol-CVD.
Project description:Pigment-based plumage coloration and its physiological properties have attracted many researchers to explain the evolution of such ornamental traits. These studies, however, assume the functional importance of the predominant pigment while ignoring that of other minor pigments, and few studies have focused on the composition of these pigments. Using the pheomelanin-based plumage in two swallow species, we studied the allocation of two pigments (the predominant pigment, pheomelanin, and the minor pigment, eumelanin) in relation to physiological properties and viability in populations under a natural and sexual selection. This is indispensable for studying the evolution of pheomelanin-based plumage coloration. Pheomelanin and eumelanin share the same pathway only during their initial stages of development, which can be a key to unravel the functional importance of pigment allocation and thus of plumage coloration. Using the barn swallow, Hirundo rustica, a migratory species, we found that plasma testosterone levels increased with increasing the proportion of eumelanin pigments compared with pheomelanin pigments, but not with the amount of pheomelanin pigments, during the mating period. In the Pacific swallow Hirundo tahitica, a nonmigratory congener, we found that, during severe winter weathers, survivors had a proportionally smaller amount of eumelanin pigments compared with pheomelanin pigments than that in nonsurvivors, but no detectable difference was found in the pheomelanin pigmentation itself. These results indicated that a minor pigment, eumelanin, matters at least in some physiological measures and viability. Because the major pigment, pheomelanin, has its own physiological properties, a combination of major and minor pigments provides multiple information to the signal receivers, potentially enhancing the signaling function of pheomelanic coloration and its diversification across habitats.
Project description: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: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.