Spectral and time-resolved fluorescence studies of different eumelanins (natural, synthetic, enzymatic) in solution have been carried out by two-photon excitation at 800 nm, using 80 fs pulses with photon flux densities ≤ 1027 cm-2.s-1. Whereas all samples show monotonously decreasing absorption between near UV and near IR, their fluorescence behavior indicates strong heterogeneity. With respect to the also measured one-photon excited fluorescence (OPF) of melanin at 400 nm, the overall spectral shape of the two-photon excited fluorescence (TPF) is red-shifted. Both OPF and TPF exhibit three-exponential decay with a shortest component £ 200 ps.
As is also shown, the fluorescence properties of melanin are dependent on the micro-environment. This allows the hypothesis, that the process of malignant transformation in skin tissue could be reflected in the fluorescence, provided the melanin in skin is selectively excited. The latter is realized by the described stepwise absorption of two 800 nm photons.
In this way, indeed characteristic differences between the TPF spectra of healthy tissue, nevus cell nevi and malignant melanoma have been found.