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Mechanochromic photonic gels



Edwin P. Chan, A M. Urbas, Joseph J. Walish, Edwin L. Thomas


Polymer gels are remarkable materials with physical structures that can adapt significantly and quite rapidly with changes in the local environmental changes such as temperature, light intensity, electrochemistry, and mechanical force. An interesting phenomenon observed in certain polymer gel systems is mechanochromism – a response in color change due to a mechanical deformation. Mechanochromic gels are photonic gels that are structured polymer gels engineered with a photonic stopband that can be tuned by mechanical forces to reflect specific colors. These materials have potential as mechanochromic sensors because both the mechanical and optical properties are highly tailorable via incorporation of diluents, solvents, nanoparticles, polymers or application of stimulus such as temperature, pH, electric and strain fields. In this progress report, we discuss the recent advances in photonic gels that display strain-dependent optical properties. In particular, we focus our discussion primarily on polymer-based photonic gels that are directly or indirectly fabricated via self-assembly as these materials are promising soft matter platforms for scaleable mechanochromic sensors.
Advanced Materials


photonic crystals, stimuli-responsive materials, sensors, block copolymers, gels, mechanochromism


Chan, E. , Urbas, A. , Walish, J. and Thomas, E. (2013), Mechanochromic photonic gels, Advanced Materials, [online], (Accessed April 15, 2024)
Created June 10, 2013, Updated February 19, 2017