Towards structure-property-function relationships for eumelanin

TitleTowards structure-property-function relationships for eumelanin
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2006
AuthorsMeredith, Paul, Powell Ben J., Riesz J. J., Nighswander-Rempel S. P., Pederson M. R., and Moore E. G.
JournalSoft Matter
AbstractWe discuss recent progress towards the establishment of important structure-property-function relationships in eumelanins-key functional bio-macromolecular systems responsible for photoprotection and immune response in humans, and implicated in the development of melanoma skin cancer. We focus on the link between eumelanin's secondary structure and optical properties such as broad band UV-visible absorption and strong non-radiative relaxation; both key features of the photo-protective function. We emphasise the insights gained through a holistic approach combining optical spectroscopy with first principles quantum chemical calculations, and advance the hypothesis that the robust functionality characteristic of eumelanin is related to extreme chemical and structural disorder at the secondary level. This inherent disorder is a low cost natural resource, and it is interesting to speculate as to whether it may play a role in other functional bio-macromolecular systems.