Ali Dhinojwala

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Use of Melanin for Structural Colors

Ali Dhinojwala, Interim Director and H. A. Morton Professor, School of Polymer Science and Polymer Engineering, University of Akron

Abstract: Melanin is one of the most important pigments used by birds in producing iridescent colors. It has a high refractive index and a broad absorption in the visible spectral range. The periodic spacing between melanin particles leads to structural colors that have high saturation and contrast. Based on this knowledge we have synthesized melanin particles starting with dopamine monomers and using self-assembly to produce structural colors. The control of spacing between particles can be tuned to obtain tunable colors over the complete visible spectral range. The simple one-pot process used for self-assembly makes it an economical process for producing structural colors. I will discuss different approaches of using melanin for producing structural colors and how it could be potentially used as additives for paints, cosmetics, and other applications.

Biography: Professor Dhinojwala is an Interim Director and H. A. Morton Professor in the School of Polymer Science and Polymer Engineering at the University of Akron. His current research interest is in understanding adhesion, friction, and wetting. His group has developed light-based spectroscopic techniques to understand the physical properties of molecules at surfaces and interfaces. His recent interest in the area of bio-adhesion has led them to develop synthetic adhesives inspired by geckos and spiders. He is also a co-PI of the Biomimicry Research and Innovation Center (BRIC) at the University of Akron. Inspired by bird feathers colors, we also explore structural colors, which are remarkable for their color tunability and resistance to chemical and photo bleaching compared with traditional pigmentary colors.

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