Patent Number: 6,165,389

Title: Thermally switchable optical devices

Abstract: Devices that comprise novel, mesoscopically periodic materials that combine crystalline colloidal array (CCA) self-assembly with the temperature induced volume phase transitions of various materials, preferably poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) (PNIPAM) are disclosed. In one embodiment, a PNIPAM CCA is formed in an aqueous media and contained within cell means. In another embodiment, a CCA of charged particles is formed and polymerized in a PNIPAM hydrogel. Methods for making these devices are also disclosed. The devices of the present invention are useful in many applications including, for example, optical switches, optical limiters, optical filters, display devices and processing elements. The devices are further useful as membrane filters. All of these devices have the feature of being tunable in response to temperature. Devices that change diffracted wavelength in response to pressure are also disclosed.

Inventors: Asher; Sanford A. (Pittsburgh, PA), Weissman; Jesse M. (Pittsburgh, PA), Sunkara; Hari B. (Huntsville, AL)

Assignee: University of Pittsburgh of the Commonwealth of Higher Education

International Classification: G01L 11/00 (20060101); G01L 11/02 (20060101); G02F 1/01 (20060101); G01K 11/00 (20060101); G01K 11/12 (20060101); G01K 11/06 (20060101); G02F 1/17 (20060101); F21V 009/00 (); G02F 001/00 (); G02B 005/22 (); G02B 005/24 ()

Expiration Date: 12/26/2017