Photonic crystal templating of optically active hydrogel sensors is a topic of growing interest in materials chemistry. When interactions between a mesostructured hydrogel and analyte molecules cause a reversible dimensional change of the hydrogel, the corresponding shift in optical diffraction can be detected either spectroscopically or visually. Using poly(styrene) photonic crystals as templates, we synthesized inverse opal hydrogels through photopolymerization of 2-hydroxyethylmethacrylate and various functional monomers, and demonstrated the ability to sense pH and glucose at different ionic strengths and other experimental conditions. The diffraction of the pH sensitive hydrogel shifted from 544 nm to 850 nm when the pH was increased from 4 to 7, while the diffraction of the glucose sensitive hydrogel changed from 599 nm to 719 nm when the glucose concentration was raised from 0 mM to 100 mM. Diffraction response kinetics on the order of ∼30 minutes were observed, which may be attributed to diffusion of analyte molecules through the thin (12-24 μm) hydrogel samples. These mechanically robust inverse opal hydrogel sensors may form a starting point for chemical and biological sensing using diffractive three-dimensional mesostructures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)86-93
Number of pages8
JournalProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
StatePublished - 2003
EventNanomaterials and Their Optical Applications - San Diego, CA, United States
Duration: Aug 5 2003Aug 7 2003


  • Colloidal crystal
  • Glucose sensor
  • Inverse opal hydrogel
  • Optical diffraction
  • Photonic crystal templating
  • pH sensor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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