Photonic-crystal hydrogels with a rapidly tunable stop band and high reflectivity across the visible


Park, J. - G. ; Rogers, W. B. ; Magiriadou, S. ; Kodger, T. ; Kim, S. - H. ; Kim, Y. - S. ; Manoharan, V. N. Photonic-crystal hydrogels with a rapidly tunable stop band and high reflectivity across the visible. Optical Materials Express 2017, 7 253-263.


We present a new type of hydrogel photonic crystal with a stop band that can be rapidly modulated across the entire visible spectrum. We make these materials by using a high-molecular-weight polymer to induce a depletion attraction between polystyrene-poly(N-isopropylacrylamide-co-bisacrylamide-co-acrylic acid) core-shell particles. The resulting crystals display a stop band at visible wavelengths that can be tuned with temperature at a rate of 60 nm/s, nearly three orders of magnitude faster than previous photonic-crystal hydrogels. Above a critical concentration of depleting agent, the crystals do not melt even at 40 degrees Celsius. As a result, the stop band can be modulated continuously from red (650 nm) to blue (450 nm), with nearly constant reflectivity throughout the visible spectrum. The unusual thermal stability is due to the polymer used as the depleting agent, which is too large to enter the hydrogel mesh and therefore induces a large osmotic pressure that holds the particles together. The fast response rate is due to the collective diffusion coefficient of our hydrogel shells, which is more than three orders of magnitude larger than that of conventional bulk hydrogels. Finally, the constant reflectivity from red (650 nm) to blue (450 nm) is due to the core-shell design of the particles, whose scattering is dominated by the polystyrene cores and not the hydrogel. These findings provide new insights into the design of responsive photonic crystals for display applications and tunable lasers.


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