The skin pigment melanin is one of a few bio-macromolecules that display electrical and photo-conductivity in the solid-state. A model for melanin charge transport based on amorphous semiconductivity has been widely accepted for 40 years. In this letter, we show that a central pillar in support of this hypothesis, namely experimental agreement with a hydrated dielectric model, is an artefact related to measurement geometry and non-equilibrium behaviour. Our results cast significant doubt on the validity of the amorphous semiconductor model and are a reminder of the difficulties of electrical measurements on low conductivity, disordered organic materials.

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See supplementary material at http://dx.doi.org/10.1063/1.3688491 for more experimental and data analysis details.

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