Scientific reports

Rational Design of Photonic Dust from Nanoporous Anodic Alumina Films: A Versatile Photonic Nanotool for Visual Sensing.

PMID 26245759


Herein, we present a systematic study on the development, optimisation and applicability of interferometrically coloured distributed Bragg reflectors based on nanoporous anodic alumina (NAA-DBRs) in the form of films and nanoporous microparticles as visual/colorimetric analytical tools. Firstly, we synthesise a complete palette of NAA-DBRs by galvanostatic pulse anodisation approach, in which the current density is altered in a periodic fashion in order to engineer the effective medium of the resulting photonic films in depth. NAA-DBR photonic films feature vivid colours that can be tuned across the UV-visible-NIR spectrum by structural engineering. Secondly, the effective medium of the resulting photonic films is assessed systematically by visual analysis and reflectometric interference spectroscopy (RIfS) in order to establish the most optimal nanoporous platforms to develop visual/colorimetric tools. Then, we demonstrate the applicability of NAA-DBR photonic films as a chemically selective sensing platform for visual detection of mercury(II) ions. Finally, we generate a new nanomaterial, so-called photonic dust, by breaking down NAA-DBRs films into nanoporous microparticles. The resulting microparticles (μP-NAA-DBRs) display vivid colours and are sensitive towards changes in their effective medium, opening new opportunities for developing advanced photonic nanotools for a broad range of applications.