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Macromolecular Rapid Communications


In nature, animals such as chameleons are well‐known for the complex color patterns of their skin and the ability to adapt and change the color by manipulating sophisticated photonic crystal systems. Artificial gradient photonic materials are inspired by these color patterns. A concept for the preparation of such materials and their function as tunable mechanochromic materials is presented in this work. The system consists of a 1D polymer photonic crystal on a centimeter scale on top of an elastic poly(dimethylsiloxane) substrate with a gradient in stiffness. In the unstrained state, this system reveals a uniform red reflectance over the entire sample. Upon deformation, a gradient in local strain of the substrate is formed and transferred to the photonic crystal. Depending on the magnitude of this local strain, the thickness of the photonic crystal decreases continuously, resulting in a position‐dependent blue shift of the reflectance peak and hence the color in a rainbow‐like fashion. Using more sophisticated hard‐soft‐hard‐soft‐hard gradient elastomers enables the realization of stripe‐like reflectance patterns. Thus, this approach allows for the tunable formation of reflectance gradients and complex reflectance patterns. Envisioned applications are in the field of mechanochromic sensors, telemedicine, smart materials, and metamaterials.



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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.