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Estimation of molar absorptivities and pigment sizes for eumelanin and pheomelanin using femtosecond transient absorption spectroscopy
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Fundamental optical and structuralproperties of melanins are not well understood due to their poor solubility characteristics and the chemical disorder present during biomolecular synthesis. We apply nonlinear transient absorption spectroscopy to quantify molar absorptivities for eumelanin and pheomelanin and thereby get an estimate for their average pigment sizes. We determine that pheomelanin exhibits a larger molar absorptivity at near IR wavelengths , which may be extended to shorter wavelengths. Using the molar absorptivities, we estimate that melanin pigments contain and 28 monomer units for eumelanin and pheomelanin, respectively. This is considerably larger than the oligomeric species that have been recently proposed to account for the absorptionspectrum of eumelanin and illustrates that larger pigments comprise a significant fraction of the pigment distribution.
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