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Structure of Polydopamine: A Never-Ending Story?

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journal contribution
posted on 19.02.2016, 00:29 by Jürgen Liebscher, Radosław Mrówczyński, Holger A. Scheidt, Claudiu Filip, Niculina D. Hădade, Rodica Turcu, Attila Bende, Sebastian Beck
Polydopamine (PDA) formed by the oxidation of dopamine is an important polymer, in particular, for coating various surfaces. It is composed of dihydroxyindole, indoledione, and dopamine units, which are assumed to be covalently linked. Although PDA has been applied in a manifold way, its structure is still under discussion. Similarities have been observed in melanins/eumelanins as naturally occurring, deeply colored polymer pigments derived from l-DOPA. Recently, an alternative structure was proposed for PDA wherein dihydroxyindoline, indolinedione, and eventually dopamine units are not covalently linked to each other but are held together by hydrogen bonding between oxygen atoms or π stacking. In this study, we show that this structural proposal is very unlikely to occur taking into account unambiguous results obtained by different analytical methods, among them 13C CPPI MAS NMR (cross-polarization polarization–inversion magic angle spinning NMR), 1H MAS NMR (magic angle spinning NMR), and ES-HRMS (electrospray ionization high-resolution mass spectrometry) for the first time in addition to XPS (X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy) and FTIR spectroscopy. The results give rise to a verified structural assignment of PDA wherein dihydroxyindole and indoledione units with different degrees of (un)­saturation are covalently linked by C–C bonds between their benzene rings. Furthermore, proof of open-chain (dopamine) monomer units in PDA is provided. Advanced DFT calculations imply the arrangements of several PDA chains preferably by quinone–hydroquinone-type interactions in a parallel or antiparallel manner. From all of these results, a number of hypotheses published before could be experimentally supported or were found to be contradictory, thus leading to a better understanding of the PDA structure.

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