PNIPAM: a thermo-activated nano-material for use in optical devices
In this paper we describe the use of thermo-activated PNIPAM nano-material in optical switching devices. In other publications, the PNIPAM is used either as a carrier for crystalline colloidal array self-assemblies or as micro-particles that serve as pigment bags. In this publication we use a simpler-to-fabricate pure PNIPAM solution in a semi-dilute regime. The PNIPAM devices produced are transparent at temperatures below a critical temperature of 32°C and become diffusing above this temperature. We show that at 632 nm the transmission through the devices is about 75% in the transparent state while the additional attenuation achieved in the diffusing state is of the order of 38 dB. The experimental fall and rise times obtained are large (about 300 ms and 5 s, respectively) due to the non-optimised thermal addressing scheme. In addition, spectral measurements taken in the infrared spectrum (700–1,000 nm) demonstrate that the cell response is flat over a large portion of the infrared spectrum in both the transparent and the diffusing states.
KeywordsOptical switching Thermal activation PNIPAM
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