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Sensors 2013, 13(4), 4192-4213; doi:10.3390/s130404192

Photonic Crystal Structures with Tunable Structure Color as Colorimetric Sensors

National Engineering Laboratory for Modern Silk, College of Textile and Clothing Engineering, Soochow University, Suzhou 215123, China
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 4 January 2013 / Revised: 12 March 2013 / Accepted: 12 March 2013 / Published: 28 March 2013
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Photonic Crystal Sensors)
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Colorimetric sensing, which transduces environmental changes into visible color changes, provides a simple yet powerful detection mechanism that is well-suited to the development of low-cost and low-power sensors. A new approach in colorimetric sensing exploits the structural color of photonic crystals (PCs) to create environmentally-influenced color-changeable materials. PCs are composed of periodic dielectrics or metallo-dielectric nanostructures that affect the propagation of electromagnetic waves (EM) by defining the allowed and forbidden photonic bands. Simultaneously, an amazing variety of naturally occurring biological systems exhibit iridescent color due to the presence of PC structures throughout multi-dimensional space. In particular, some kinds of the structural colors in living organisms can be reversibly changed in reaction to external stimuli. Based on the lessons learned from natural photonic structures, some specific examples of PCs-based colorimetric sensors are presented in detail to demonstrate their unprecedented potential in practical applications, such as the detections of temperature, pH, ionic species, solvents, vapor, humidity, pressure and biomolecules. The combination of the nanofabrication technique, useful design methodologies inspired by biological systems and colorimetric sensing will lead to substantial developments in low-cost, miniaturized and widely deployable optical sensors.
Keywords: photonic crystals; structure color; colorimetric sensors photonic crystals; structure color; colorimetric sensors

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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Wang, H.; Zhang, K.-Q. Photonic Crystal Structures with Tunable Structure Color as Colorimetric Sensors. Sensors 2013, 13, 4192-4213.

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