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J Am Chem Soc. 2005 Aug 3;127(30):10753-9.

Modeling of stimulated hydrogel volume changes in photonic crystal Pb2+ sensing materials.

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Department of Chemistry, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15260, USA.


We modeled the stimulated hydrogel volume transitions of a material which binds Pb2+ and is used as a photonic crystal chemical sensing material. This material consists of a polymerized crystalline colloidal array (PCCA) hydrogel which contains a crown ether molecular recognition group. The PCCA is a polyacrylamide hydrogel which embeds a crystalline colloidal array (CCA) of monodisperse polystyrene spheres of approximately 100 nm. The array spacing is set to diffract light in the visible spectral region. Changes in the hydrogel volume induced by Pb2+ binding alter the array spacing and shift the diffracted wavelength. This system allows us to sensitively follow the hydrogel swelling behavior which results from the immobilization of the Pb2+ by the crown ether chelating groups. Binding of the Pb2+ immobilizes its counterions. This results in a Donnan potential, which results in an osmotic pressure which swells the hydrogel. We continue here our development of a predictive model for hydrogel swelling based on Flory's theory of gel swelling. We are qualitatively able to model the PCCA swelling but cannot correctly model the large responsivity observed at the lowest Pb2+ concentrations which give rise to the experimentally observed low detection limits for Pb2+. These PCCA materials enable stimulated hydrogel volume transitions to be studied.

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