Luminescent photonic crystals with multi-functionality and tunability†
The marriage of reflected light originating from photonic crystals (PCs) and emitted light would create miraculous phenomena. However, traditional luminophores cannot avoid the problem of aggregation-caused quenching. To solve this problem, we develop a general method to incorporate aggregation-induced emission luminogens (AIEgens) into PCs via physical absorption or chemical reaction. The resulting luminescent PCs display diverse structural colors in response to water stimulation, due to the swelling of the aqueous medium. Such a water-tunable photonic band gap red-shift has the ability to modulate the AIEgen emission, as well as narrowing its full width at half maximum (FWHM), which allows the luminescent PC to behave as a smart intramolecular filter that is capable of creating arbitrary light from only one material. In addition, the filter is believed to modulate the broad emission spectra of AIEgens arising from different conformations. Furthermore, the luminescent PC can respond to ethanol stimulation due to two factors: (a) swelling of the aqueous medium (external tuning); and (b) expansion of nanoparticles (internal tuning). By exploiting the synergy of the external-internal tuning, the emission wavelength and intensity can be finely changed. Both the water- and ethanol-tunable emission shift fit to a linear relationship, and thus the luminescent PC could be able to quantitatively detect humidity in the environment and alcohol in wine.