Melanin-Inspired Chromophoric Microparticles Composed of Polymeric Peptide Pigments

Ayala Lampel, Scott A. McPhee, Salma Kassem, Deborah Sementa, Tlalit Massarano, James M. Aramini, Ye He, Rein V. Ulijn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Melanin and related polyphenolic pigments are versatile functional polymers that serve diverse aesthetic and protective roles across the living world. These polymeric pigments continue to inspire the development of adhesive, photonic, electronic and radiation-protective materials and coatings. The properties of these structures are dictated by covalent and non-covalent interactions in ways that, despite progress, are not fully understood. It remains a major challenge to direct oxidative polymerization of their precursors (amino acids, (poly-)phenols, thiols) toward specific structures. By taking advantage of supramolecular pre-organization of tyrosine-tripeptides and reactive sequestering of selected amino acids during enzymatic oxidation, we demonstrate the spontaneous formation of distinct new chromophores with optical properties that are far beyond the range of those found in biological melanins, in terms of color, UV absorbance and fluorescent emission.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7564-7569
Number of pages6
JournalAngewandte Chemie - International Edition
Issue number14
StatePublished - 29 Mar 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

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© 2021 Wiley-VCH GmbH


  • bioinspired materials
  • melanin
  • peptide self-assembly
  • pigments
  • supramolecular materials


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