Light- and Humidity-Induced Motion of an Acidochromic Film

Lidong Zhang, Panče Naumov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A smart acidochromic agarose-based film with 1,4-bis(para-hydroxystyryl)benzene as the pH-responsive fluorophore was prepared. This film can simultaneously harness the chemical potential of light and aerial humidity gradients to convert them into mechanical work. The strong reversible hygroscopicity of the agarose matrix induces swift locomotion by mechanical deformation owing to exchange of water with the surroundings. Driven by humidity, a 20 mg composite film coupled to a piezoelectric bending transducer sensor generates a peak output of approximately 80 mV, which corresponds to a power density of 25 μW kg-1. Excitation with UV light triggers isomerization of the chromophore, which appears as reshaping by spiraling, bending, or twisting of the film. The material also responds to changes in the pH value by reversible protonation of the fluorophore with rapid changes in color and fluorescence. The threefold sensing capability of this smart material could be utilized for the fabrication of multiresponsive actuating dynamic elements in biomedicine and soft robotics. A composite self-actuated material is capable of a rapid response to pH variations with color changes from colorless to yellow and with a drastic shift in the fluorescence emission from blue to yellow. Furthermore, this smart acidochromic agarose-based film can harness the potentials of aerial-humidity gradients and light energy to convert them into mechanical work.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8642-8647
Number of pages6
JournalAngewandte Chemie - International Edition
Issue number30
StatePublished - Jul 20 2015


  • acidochromism
  • actuators
  • fluorescence
  • photochromism
  • smart materials

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • General Chemistry


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