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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2003 Sep 16;100(19):10607-10. Epub 2003 Aug 28.

Smart dust: self-assembling, self-orienting photonic crystals of porous Si.

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Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of California at San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093-0358, USA.


Micrometer-sized one-dimensional photonic crystals of porous Si that spontaneously assemble, orient, and sense their local environment are prepared. The photonic crystals are generated by electrochemically etching two discrete porous multilayered dielectric mirrors into Si, one on top of the other. The first mirror is chemically modified by hydrosilylation with dodecene before the etching of the second mirror, which is prepared with an optical reflectivity spectrum that is distinct from the first. The entire film is removed from the substrate, and the second mirror is then selectively modified by mild thermal oxidation. The films are subsequently fractured into small particles by sonication. The chemically asymmetric particles spontaneously align at an organic liquid-water interface, with the hydrophobic side oriented toward the organic phase and the hydrophilic side toward the water. Sensing is accomplished when liquid at the interface infuses into the porous mirrors, inducing predictable shifts in the optical spectra of both mirrors.

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