Eumelanins, the black insoluble pigments of human skin, eyes and substantia nigra (neuromelanin), stand today as a unique source of inspiration for the design and implementation of soft biocompatible multifunctional materials for bio-optoelectronic devices. Interest in eumelanins stems from bioavailability, biocompatibility and a peculiar set of physicochemical properties, i.e. broadband absorption in the UV-visible range, intrinsic free radical character, water-dependent hybrid ionic–electronic conductor behaviour, supporting optimistic feelings about a possible rise of eumelanin-mimics as innovative bioinspired solutions for organic bioelectronics.
However, a number of conceptual and technological gaps still hinder a rapid progress of melanin-based organic electronics and bioelectronics, including in particular the limited contribution of electronic conductivity and current decay with time under biasing. Herein, we provide a concise overview of the structural and optoelectronic properties of melanins with a view to bringing to focus main issues and challenges en route to bioelectronic applications.