Hydrophobic Melanin via Post-Synthetic Modification for Controlled Self-Assembly

Xuhao Zhou, Shengyi Su, Bram Vanthournout, Ziying Hu, Florencia A. Son, Kexin Zhang, Zofia E. Siwicka, Xinyi Gong, Navjit Paul, Karthikeyan Gnanasekaran, Christopher Forman, Omar K. Farha, Matthew D. Shawkey*, Nathan C. Gianneschi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Allomelanin is a class of nitrogen-free melanin mostly found in fungi and, like all naturally occurring melanins, is hydrophilic. Herein, we develop a facile method to modify synthetic hydrophilic allomelanin to yield hydrophobic derivatives through post-synthetic modifications. Amine-functionalized molecules of various kinds can be conjugated to allomelanin nanoparticles under mild conditions with high loading efficiencies. Hydrophobicity is conferred by introducing amine-terminated alkyl groups with different chain lengths. We demonstrate that the resulting hydrophobic allomelanin nanoparticles undergo air/water interfacial self-assembly in a controlled fashion, which enables the generation of large-scale and uniform structural colors. This work provides an efficient and tunable surface chemistry modification strategy to broaden the scope of synthetic melanin structure and function beyond the known diversity found in nature.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)19087-19095
Number of pages9
JournalACS nano
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 22 2022


  • air/water interfacial self-assembly
  • allomelanin
  • hydrophobic melanin
  • melanin
  • post-synthetic modification

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Engineering(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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