Sensors (Basel, Switzerland)

Colorimetric Humidity Sensor Using Inverse Opal Photonic Gel in Hydrophilic Ionic Liquid.

PMID 29702584


We demonstrate a fast response colorimetric humidity sensor using a crosslinked poly(2-hydroxyethyl methacrylate) (PHEMA) in the form of inverse opal photonic gel (IOPG) soaked in 1-butyl-3-methylimidazolium tetrafluoroborate ([BMIM⁺][BF₄−]), a non-volatile hydrophilic room temperature ionic liquid (IL). An evaporative colloidal assembly enabled the fabrication of highly crystalline opal template, and a subsequent photopolymerization of PHEMA followed by solvent-etching and final soaking in IL produced a humidity-responsive IOPG showing highly reflective structural color by Bragg diffraction. Three IOPG sensors with different crosslinking density were fabricated on a single chip, where a lightly crosslinked IOPG exhibited the color change response over entire visible spectrum with respect to the humidity changes from 0 to 80% RH. As the water content increased in IL, thermodynamic interactions between PHEMA and [BMIM⁺][BF₄−] became more favorable, to show a red-shifted structural color owing to a longitudinal swelling of IOPG. Highly porous IO structure enabled fast humidity-sensing kinetics with the response times of ~1 min for both swelling and deswelling. Temperature-dependent swelling of PHEMA in [BMIM⁺][BF₄−] revealed that the current system follows an upper critical solution temperature (UCST) behavior with the diffraction wavelength change as small as 1% at the temperature changes from 10 °C to 30 °C.

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2-Methylheptane, 98%