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A new structural color film was developed towards visible water quality monitoring

Janus wettability has attracted particular interest because of its applicability in various intelligent systems. However, most of the existing Janus wettability surfaces lack stimuli-response visualization. According to a study led by researchers at Nanjing Normal University, a multifunctional asymmetric film has been designed and it may open a new chapter in designing and fabricating a multifunctional robotic environmental detector.

The researchers paper published in the journal, Advanced Functional Materials, on March 6, 2021 maintains that Superwettability, such as superhydrophobic, superhydrophilic, and tunable wettability have attracted an increasing amount of attention in recent years for their applications in self-cleaning, anti-fogging, anti-icing, and so on. Therefore, more attention has been paid to films with Janus wettability that have two faces with different properties.

However, most of these existing Janus wettability surfaces lack stimuli-response visualization and only report a single stimulus signal. Thus, the creation of Janus membranes with timeliness, maneuverability, and a relatively accurate visible stimuli-response signal output is still anticipated. Inspired by the functional performance of lotus leaf and Betta splendens, the researchers prepared the desired Janus wettability membrane for intelligent robotic devices by integrating the advantages of a stimuli-responsive structural color film with a candle soot coating, as drawn in Figure 1. It was found that the PU/P (NiPAAm-bis-AA) could still form an inverse opal photonic structure with a show bright structural color, while the candle soot coating not only enhanced the vivid color of the structural color, but also formed a superhydrophobic surface. These features indicate that the Janus wettability structural color film might open a new chapter in designing and fabricating the multifunctional robotic environmental detector.

Xinran Zhang (First Author) worked with authors Cihui Liu, Lulu Zhang, Linnan Jia, Maqian Shi, Yunsong Di, and Zhixing Gan from the Center for Future Optoelectronic Functional Materials, the School of Computer and Electronic Information/School of Artificial Intelligence, Nanjing Normal University, and Liang Chen from the Laboratory for Bio-Medical Instruments Research, and Huaian Tianda Medical Instruments Co., Ltd. 

The study, “Bioinspired Tunable Structural Color Film with Janus Wettability and Interfacial Floatability towards Visible Water Quality Monitoring” was published in Advanced Functional Materials on March. 6, 2021. This work was completed by the Center for Future Optoelectronic Functional Materials of Nanjing Normal University and Huaian Tianda Medical Instruments Co., Ltd., and was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (grants 21802074), with additional funding from Nanjing Normal University.