The design of modern devices that can fulfil the requirements for sustainability and renewable energy applications calls for both new materials and a better understanding of the mixing of existing materials. Among those, surely organic–inorganic hybrids are gaining increasing attention due to the wide possibility to tailor their properties by accurate structural design and materials choice. In this work, we’ll describe the tight interplay between porous Si and two melanic polymers permeating the pores. Melanins are a class of biopolymers, known to cause pigmentation in many living species, that shows very interesting potential applications in a wide variety of fields. Given the complexity of the polymerization process beyond the formation and structure, the full understanding of the melanins’ properties remains a challenging task. In this study, the use of a melanin/porous Si hybrid as a tool to characterize the polymer’s properties within mesopores gives new insights into the conduction mechanisms of melanins. We demonstrate the dramatic effect induced on these mechanisms in a confined environment by the presence of a thick interface. In previous studies, we already showed that the interactions at the interface between porous Si and eumelanin play a key role in determining the final properties of composite materials. Here, thanks to a careful monitoring of the photoconductivity properties of porous Si filled with melanins obtained by ammonia-induced solid-state polymerization (AISSP) of 5,6-dihydroxyindole (DHI) or 1,8-dihydroxynaphthalene (DHN), we investigate the effect of wet, dry, and vacuum cycles of storage from the freshly prepared samples to months-old samples. A computational study on the mobility of water molecules within a melanin polymer is also presented to complete the understanding of the experimental data. Our results demonstrate that: (a) the hydration-dependent behavior of melanins is recovered in large pores (≈ 60 nm diameter) while is almost absent in thinner pores (≈ 20 nm diameter); (b) DHN-melanin materials can generate higher photocurrents and proved to be stable for several weeks and more sensitive to the wet/dry variations.

The interplay of chemical structure, physical properties, and structural design as a tool to modulate the properties of melanins within mesopores

Pira, Alessandro
Primo
Investigation
;
Amatucci, Alberto
Investigation
;
Melis, Claudio
Investigation
;
Mula, Guido
Ultimo
Conceptualization
2022

Abstract

The design of modern devices that can fulfil the requirements for sustainability and renewable energy applications calls for both new materials and a better understanding of the mixing of existing materials. Among those, surely organic–inorganic hybrids are gaining increasing attention due to the wide possibility to tailor their properties by accurate structural design and materials choice. In this work, we’ll describe the tight interplay between porous Si and two melanic polymers permeating the pores. Melanins are a class of biopolymers, known to cause pigmentation in many living species, that shows very interesting potential applications in a wide variety of fields. Given the complexity of the polymerization process beyond the formation and structure, the full understanding of the melanins’ properties remains a challenging task. In this study, the use of a melanin/porous Si hybrid as a tool to characterize the polymer’s properties within mesopores gives new insights into the conduction mechanisms of melanins. We demonstrate the dramatic effect induced on these mechanisms in a confined environment by the presence of a thick interface. In previous studies, we already showed that the interactions at the interface between porous Si and eumelanin play a key role in determining the final properties of composite materials. Here, thanks to a careful monitoring of the photoconductivity properties of porous Si filled with melanins obtained by ammonia-induced solid-state polymerization (AISSP) of 5,6-dihydroxyindole (DHI) or 1,8-dihydroxynaphthalene (DHN), we investigate the effect of wet, dry, and vacuum cycles of storage from the freshly prepared samples to months-old samples. A computational study on the mobility of water molecules within a melanin polymer is also presented to complete the understanding of the experimental data. Our results demonstrate that: (a) the hydration-dependent behavior of melanins is recovered in large pores (≈ 60 nm diameter) while is almost absent in thinner pores (≈ 20 nm diameter); (b) DHN-melanin materials can generate higher photocurrents and proved to be stable for several weeks and more sensitive to the wet/dry variations.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11584/341312
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