Herein we propose a new structure for poly(dopamine), a synthetic eumelanin that has found broad utility as an antifouling agent. Commercially available 3-hydroxytyramine hydrochloride (dopamine HCl) was polymerized under aerobic, aqueous conditions using tris(hydroxymethyl)aminomethane (TRIS) as a basic polymerization initiator, affording a darkly colored powder product upon isolation. The polymer was analyzed using a variety of solid state spectroscopic and crystallographic techniques. Collectively, the data showed that in contrast to previously proposed models, poly(dopamine) is not a covalent polymer but instead a supramolecular aggregate of monomers (consisting primarily of 5,6-dihydroxyindoline and its dione derivative) that are held together through a combination of charge transfer, π-stacking, and hydrogen bonding interactions.
© 2012 American Chemical Society