A first-principles density-functional calculation of the electronic and vibrational structure of the key melanin monomers.

Department of Physics, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland 4072, Australia.
The Journal of Chemical Physics (Impact Factor: 3.12). 06/2004; 120(18):8608-15. DOI: 10.1063/1.1690758
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT We report first-principles density-functional calculations for hydroquinone (HQ), indolequinone (IQ), and semiquinone (SQ). These molecules are believed to be the basic building blocks of the eumelanins, a class of biomacromolecules with important biological functions (including photoprotection) and with the potential for certain bioengineering applications. We have used the difference of self-consistent fields method to study the energy gap between the highest occupied molecular orbital and the lowest unoccupied molecular orbital, Delta(HL). We show that Delta(HL) is similar in IQ and SQ, but approximately twice as large in HQ. This may have important implications for our understanding of the observed broadband optical absorption of the eumelanins. The possibility of using this difference in Delta(HL) to molecularly engineer the electronic properties of eumelanins is discussed. We calculate the infrared and Raman spectra of the three redox forms from first principles. Each of the molecules have significantly different infrared and Raman signatures, and so these spectra could be used in situ to nondestructively identify the monomeric content of macromolecules. It is hoped that this may be a helpful analytical tool in determining the structure of eumelanin macromolecules and hence in helping to determine the structure-property-function relationships that control the behavior of the eumelanins.

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