Photonic crystals (PCs) can be useful in numerous applications in areas including integrated optical circuits, lasers, sensing, spectroscopy, and pulse shaping. Photonic crystals are formed by periodic variation of optical or acoustic material properties in space. Different applications of these periodic structures rely on either defects in a perfect photonic (or phononic) crystal for operation within the bandgap frequencies, or on their unique dispersion properties outside the bandgap.
COPE is developing techniques for the reliable fabrication of photonic crystals by a variety of techniques including two-photon microfabrication and self-assembly of materials such as hydrogel nanoparticles. The hydrogels can undergo large changes in their chemical, mechanical, optical, or electrical make-up in response to a chemical stimulus, biomolecular interaction, or electromagnetic field. Such materials can be viewed as amplifiers or sensitizers of the environmental event.