Hydrogel Thin Film-Based Dynamic Structural Color System for Sensing, Camouflage, and Adaptive Optics

Tech ID: 29773 / UC Case 2018-207-0


UCLA researchers from the Department of Material Science and Engineering have developed a novel hydrogel color system that can be used for dynamic sensing, camouflage, and adaptive optics.


Dynamic color systems have many applications from sensors to encryption to adaptive optics. The important properties in a dynamic color system include the spectral range, response rate, and manufacturing complexity. The construction of dynamic structural color platforms is typically based on combining responsive and structural materials in a tedious direct repetitive manner, which makes manufacturing expensive and slow. These methods are also prone to defects, which is detrimental to the uniformity of the structure and the color. Furthermore, the speed of color change ranges from 0.1-2.5 hours, limiting its applications.


UCLA researchers have developed a novel hydrogel dynamic structural color system that addresses these issues. The hydrogel can be chemically adjusted to be sensitive to volume, humidity, temperature, light, mechanical stress, magnetic or electrical field, and specific chemical and biological molecules, including pH, metal cations, and anions, in both gaseous and liquid forms. The response rate of this system is under 1 second, as compared to the minutes to hours of previous systems. This allows for a wide-open field of real-time applications. The system has high colorimetric accuracy, which allows for both human and machine reading of the result. Finally, the hydrogel approach also allows for rapid fabrication and flexible tunability.


  • Humidity indicators 
  • Quantitative chemical sensors 
  • Multi-analyte sensor arrays 
  • Health Monitoring 
  • Environmental monitoring 
  • Bio-hazard/chemical warfare detection 
  • Mechanical strain sensing 
  • Adaptive optics


  • Response rate under 1 second 
  • Simple and rapid fabrication process 
  • Flexible tunable sensor criteria 
  • High colorimetric accuracy

Related Materials

Patent Status

Country Type Number Dated Case
Patent Cooperation Treaty Published Application WO2019182997 09/26/2019 2018-207

Additional Patent Pending


Learn About UC TechAlerts - Save Searches and receive new technology matches


  • He, Ximin

Other Information


Structural color system, color sensor, hydrogen, thin film, adaptive optics, sensors, humidity, environmental monitoring, health monitoring, chemical warfare, air monitoring, bio-hazard, encryption

Categorized As