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W Xie, E Pakdel, Y Liang, YJ Kim, D Liu, L Sun and X Wang
Abstract
Natural melanin is a ubiquitous material that plays critical biofunctional roles in different living organisms. Scientists have dedicated significant efforts to elucidate the biofunctional roles of melanin since its discovery. It has been confirmed that natural melanin possesses a number of intriguing properties such as broadband light absorption, free radical scavenging ability, redox activity, metal ion chelating and electric-ionic conductivity, enabling natural melanin as a versatile functional material in various applications. Natural eumelanin is the most investigated type of melanin in the past few decades and is mainly discussed in this review. Here, we have comprehensively discussed the latest advances and associated mechanisms on emerging applications of natural eumelanin in different fields such as functional polymers, energy storage, energy conversion, photocatalysis, photothermal therapy, and wastewater treatment considering its bioinspired properties. Important applications developed based on polydopamine (PDA), which is a “eumelanin-like” material, will also be presented to give guidelines to further develop natural melanin-based applications. Authors' perspectives on challenges and potentials of developing natural eumelanin-based applications will also be included. This review article provides a clear picture on the natural eumelanin-based applications and in turn accelerates the expansion of the relevant emerging fields.
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