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Title: Probing the heterogeneous structure of eumelanin using ultrafast vibrational fingerprinting
Abstract

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.

Authors:
; ; ;
Award ID(s):
1800471
Publication Date:
NSF-PAR ID:
10191491
Journal Name:
Nature Communications
Volume:
11
Issue:
1
ISSN:
2041-1723
Publisher:
Nature Publishing Group
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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