A flexible near-infrared light-writing multicolor hydrogel system for on-demand information display

(Nanowerk News) A team of researchers, headed by Professor CHEN Tao at the Ningbo Institute of Materials Technology and Engineering (NIMTE) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, has engineered a versatile, near-infrared light-activated, multicolor hydrogel system that can display data on demand. This breakthrough was published in the journal Advanced Materials ("Light-Writing and Projecting Multicolor Fluorescent Hydrogels for On-Demand Information Display").
With the emergence of the Internet of Things era, the creation of intelligent, rewriteable display systems carries immense potential to curb environmental pollution and resource utilization, which are escalating due to the surge in disposable electronic waste. These systems are seen as prospective platforms for data display and transmission.
Nonetheless, creating such systems that amalgamate an array of functionalities, including remote control, swift activation, and multicolor and multimode display, remains a significant challenge.
The distinctive vertical configuration of multilayered chromatophores in chameleon skin enables reversible, multicolor pattern display. Drawing inspiration from this intricate structure, the team crafted a novel, flexible, near-infrared light-induced rewriteable multicolor hydrogel system capable of displaying data on demand.
Multicolor fluorescent hydrogel system with biomimetic vertical multilayer structure for on-demand information display
Multicolor fluorescent hydrogel system with biomimetic vertical multilayer structure for on-demand information display. (Image: NIMTE) (click on image to enlarge)
The research team clarified that the hydrogel system adopts a vertically arranged multilayer structure. This structure incorporates a fluorescent hydrogel layer as the display unit and an effective poly(dimethylsiloxane) (PDMS)-sealed carbon nanotubes (CNTs) film layer as the control unit.
Notably, within the fluorescent hydrogel layer, a thermo-responsive fluorescent hydrogel is ensconced within a non-responsive hydrogel. This configuration allows for the stable, reversible, and multicolor loading of data.
The system operates on a cascading process of "light trigger-heat generation-fluorescence output." This allows the user to manually display any data, such as letters or numbers, within five seconds using near-infrared light as a writing tool. The data can be self-erased for another cycle of rewriting within 36 seconds.
Beyond the light-writing display of transient data, this biomimetic multilayer structure design was shown to facilitate easy patterning of both the photothermal CNTs layer and the fluorescent hydrogel display layer. This results in the sustainable light-projecting display of multicolor patterns.
This fluorescent hydrogel rewriteable display system serves various demands for data display or transmission. It enhances the visualization of data and the interactive experience. Furthermore, this development could provide crucial insights for the ongoing refinement of light-writing systems.
Source: Chinese Academy of Sciences (Note: Content may be edited for style and length)
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