Influence of ions and pH on formation of solid and liquid-like melanin

Chen, Yi-chieh and Kendall, Thomas and Yip, Philip and Davy, Alastair and Sefcik, Jan and Sutter, Jens U. (2020) Influence of ions and pH on formation of solid and liquid-like melanin. ACS Omega, 5 (39). pp. 25059-25068. ISSN 2470-1343 (

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Melanin is a natural pigment with broadband absorption and effective ability to dissipate the energy absorbed. The macromolecular structure of melanin shows a delicate balance between short-range ordered and disordered structures without being a random aggregate. The presence of ions or the variation in pH or ionic strength can alter the self-assembly process which subsequently changes the structure of melanin. To understand these relationships, this study investigates the influence of ions and pH in melanin formation. The types of ions present and pH have a profound influence on the formation and structure of melanin particles, while only minor changes are observed in the absorption and excitation-emission analysis. In some conditions, the formation of discernible particles with significant refractive index contrast is avoided while retaining the spectroscopic characteristics of melanin, leading to liquid-like melanin. These findings identify potential pathways which can be used to manipulate the melanin macromolecular structure while providing the desired spectral properties to enable novel bio-engineering applications. ©