An optical time–temperature steam sensor is presented based on the loss of structural color in a supramolecularly cross-linked cholesteric liquid crystal photonic coating. A gradual decrease in the selective reflection band is observed upon exposure to temperatures above 105 °C related to the cholesteric to isotropic transition temperature. The linear polymers with carboxylic acid side chains provide physical cross-linking through hydrogen bonding that allows a time–temperature-dependent order loss through the dynamic equilibrium between supramolecular dimer and free monomer states. Steam is accelerating the color loss, and autoclave experiments show that the photonic supramolecular polymer is applicable as a steam sterilization sensor for medical applications.
- cholesteric liquid crystal
- optical sensors
- steam sterilization
- stimuli-responsive photonic polymers
- supramolecular materials