2018 MRS Spring Meeting

2018 MRS Communications Lecture

Tuesday, April 3
12:10 pm – 1:15 pm
PCC North, 100 Level, Ballroom 120 D

Clara Santato

Clara Santato, Polytechnique Montréal
The Wonderful World of Melanins

Melanin (from the Greek μέλας, mélas, black) is a biopigment ubiquitous in flora and fauna, featuring broadband optical absorption, hydration-dependent electrical response, ion-binding affinity as well as antioxidative and radical-scavenging properties. In the human body, photoprotection in the skin and ion flux regulation in the brain are some biofunctional roles played by melanin. This talk is based on "Natural Melanin Pigments and Their Interfaces with Metal Ions and Oxides: Emerging Concepts and Technologies" (MRS Communications, Vol. 7, Issue 2) in which the progress in melanin research that underpins emerging technologies in energy storage/conversion, ion separation/water treatment, sunscreens, and bioelectronics is discussed. The melanin research aims at developing approaches to explore natural materials, well beyond melanin, which might serve as a prototype benign material for sustainable technologies.


The 2018 MRS Communications Lecture Award recognizes excellence in the field of materials research through work published in MRS Communications. It honors the authors of an outstanding paper published in the journal during the award year.

Read the Winning Paper

About Clara Santato

Clara Santato is Full Professor in the Department of Engineering Physics at Polytechnique Montréal. She earned her PhD degree in chemistry ("Preparation and Characterization of Nanostructured WO3 Films as Photoanodes in Photoelectrochemical Devices") in 2001 from the Université de Genève and her MSc degree ("Electropolymerization and Photopolymerization of a Pyrrole-Substituted Ruthenium tris (bipyridyl) Complex") in chemistry in 1995 from Università degli Studi di Bologna. The experimental work was carried out in collaboration with Université J. Fourier. She was a (permanent) research scientist at the Institute for Nanostructured Materials, part of the Italian National Research Council, from 2001 to 2011, and a visiting scientist (2007–2010) at Cornell University, Department of Materials Science and Engineering (Malliaras Laboratory for Organic Electronics). In 2006, she was a visiting scientist with a cross-appointment between the Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique and McGill University (Chemistry), and in 2005, at Purdue University (Chemistry).

Santato's research focuses on semiconducting films and their interfaces with metal electrodes and electrolytes, for applications in transistors and energy conversion/storage, and has been recently recognized by her elevation to the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) senior membership. With her group, she recently expanded her research interests to green electronic and energy-storage devices. 

Santato is a member of the UNESCO MATECSS (Materials and Technologies for Energy Conversion, Saving and Storage) Chair. She serves as an associate editor of the Journal of Power Sources (Elsevier).