Reversible Electronic Patterning of a Dynamically Responsive Hydrogel Medium

Thumbnail Image

Publication or External Link





Yang, C., Liu, Y., Wang, M., Hu, H., Zhao, Z., Deng, H., Payne, G.F. and Shi, X. (2023), Reversible Electronic Patterning of a Dynamically Responsive Hydrogel Medium. Adv. Funct. Mater., 33: 2302549.


A dynamically responsive hydrogel medium is prepared from two self-assembling components, a polysaccharide (chitosan) and a surfactant (sodium dodecyl sulfate; SDS). It is shown that this medium can be patterned using an electrode “pen” to reconfigure supramolecular structure: cathodic writing induces neutral chitosan chains to form a crystalline network, while anodic writing generates cationic chitosan chains that electrostatically crosslink with anionic SDS micelles. Both supramolecular structures are re-configurable and each is stabilized by structure-induced shifts in chitosan's pKa, thus electronically written patterns can be erased, new patterns can be written, and patterns can be written in three dimensions. Further, it is shown that NaCl-induced morphological transitions of the SDS micelles allow patterns to be reversibly concealed or revealed. To demonstrate the versatility of this medium for information storage, a quick response (QR) code is electronically written and it is shown that this code can be recognized by a standard cellphone app. This QR code can be concealed by making the medium opaque (i.e., by obscuring the pattern) or by making the pattern evanescent (i.e., by making pattern invisible). Overall, this work demonstrates that a dynamically responsive medium composed of simple, safe and sustainable components can be reversibly patterned with spatial and quantitative control using top-down electronic inputs.