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Microfluidic Fabrication and Thermoreversible Response of Core/Shell Photonic Crystalline Microspheres Based on Deformable Nanogels

Hu, Yuandu, Wang, Jianying, Wang, Hong, Wang, Qin, Zhu, Jintao, Yang, Yajiang
Langmuir 2012 v.28 no.49 pp. 17186-17192
color, crystals, encapsulation, microparticles, nanoparticles, optical properties, photons, polymers, temperature
Soft photonic crystals (PC) are more appealing due to the responsiveness of the building blocking-deformable nanoparticles to the external stimuli. In this report, we demonstrate, for the first time, the generation of soft core/shell PC microspheres through a combination of a microfluidic technique, encapsulation of well-ordered temperature responsive polymer nanogels suspension, and photopolymerization of a transparent shell resin. This strategy not only ensures the monodispersity of core/shell PC microspheres, but also precisely controls their size, shell thickness, and optical properties by simply adjusting the flow rate ratio and mass fraction of the nanogels. More interestingly, the intensity of the reflection spectra of the crystalline nanogel arrays in the core can be modulated reversibly by controlling the shell thickness or the temperature. As a result of their symmetric structure, the resulting PC microspheres exhibited excellent structural colors and photonic band gaps for normal incident light independent of the position on the spherical surface. Multifunctional PC microspheres can also be generated by simply dispersing functional species together with the nanogels. This core/shell PC microsphere with tunable shell thickness and reversible thermoresponse could be significant for potential applications in the fields of chemical/biological sensors, display, encoding, and optical switching.