The structural evolution of Bragg diffracting inverse opal hydrogel sensors during swelling is directly observed by two-photon laser scanning fluorescence microscopy and compared to predictions from finite element analysis. A fluorescently labeled pH-sensitive hydrogel is UV-polymerized in a dried polystyrene colloidal crystal template, which is etched to yield an inverse opal. Fluorescence imaging of the hydrogel at different pH values reveals an inhomogeneous deformation of the FCC array of aqueous pores. The pores elongate along the sample normal direction and collapse along the sample parallel directions, consistent with the Bragg response, which indicates a 1-D increase in the interlayer distance. Interconnects between the pores serve as anchor points during hydrogel expansion into the pores. Pinning of the hydrogel to the substrate causes a change of the hydrogel lattice symmetry during deformation, from FCC (ABC stacking) to LI i (ABCA′B′C′ stacking). Reconstructed cross-sections confirm that a 1-D increase in the interlayer distance along the substrate normal direction is responsible for the diffraction response of an inverse opal hydrogel sensor. Comparison with predictions from finite element analysis shows qualitative agreement, although the experimental mesostructure is significantly more deformed than the calculated data, due to buckling in the experimental system that is not captured by the model.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
- Surfaces, Coatings and Films
- Materials Chemistry