Research in the Belitsky Lab

Our lab is inspired by melanins, the biological pigments. Melanins and synthetic analogs such as polydopamine are of growing interest to materials science. We have focused on gaining a fundamental understanding of these materials and their molecular recognition properties, with applications such as melanin-based water purification and colorimetric sensors. Long-term projects range from synthetic organic chemistry and spectroscopic characterization to small-molecule screening and environmental applications.

View Associate Professor Jason Belitsky's faculty bio

Melanins are the pigments which contribute to our skin and hair color.  Melanins are part of a class of biomaterials with unique chemical and physical properties that have become an inspiration for materials science.  Our group's core technology is making synthetic melanin and related chemicals.  We use these synthetic materials to help understand the natural materials and are also pursuing environmental applications.  For example, synthetic melanin binds many other types of chemicals and can be used for water purification.  We have also developed analogs which change color upon binding to metal ions such as lead, and can potentially be used as colorimetric sensors for lead.

Discs coated with a synthetic material related to melanin change color in the presence of different metal ions.

Current Student Researchers