Stimuli-Responsive Hydrogel Microlenses
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This dissertation is aimed towards using stimuli-responsive pNIPAm-co-AAc microgels synthesized via free-radical precipitation polymerization to prepare stimuli-responsive hydrogel microlenses. Chapter 1 gives a detailed background of hydrogels, and their applications using responsive hydrogels. Chapter 2 describes the use of colloidal hydrogel microparticles as microlens elements and the fabrication method to form the hydrogel microlens arrays via Coulombic interactions. Chapter 3 shows the demonstration of tunable microlenses prepared by the method used in Chapter 2. In this chapter the microlenses are subjected to various pH and temperature in aqueous solutions. Chapter 4 describes that the microlens arrays constructed on Au nanoparticle-functionalized glass substrates by self-assembly display dramatic changes in lensing power in response to an impingent frequency-doubled Nd:YAG laser. The microlens photoswitching is highly reversible, with sub-millisecond lens switching times. Chapter 5 describes the development of bioresponsive hydrogel microlenses as a new protein detection technology. The microlens method is shown to be very specific for the target protein, with no detectable interference from nonspecific protein binding. Chapter 6 describes the use of bioresponsive hydrogel microlenses as a label-free biosensing scaffolding. These microstructures simultaneously act as the biosensors scaffolding/immobilization architecture, transducer, amplifier, and also allow for broad tunability of the analyte concentration to which the microlens is sensitive.