Dynamic Optical Gratings Accessed by Reversible Shape Memory

Shape memory polymers (SMPs) have been shown to accurately replicate photonic structures that produce tunable optical responses, but in practice, these responses are limited by the irreversibility of conventional shape memory processes. Here, we report the intensity modulation of a diffraction grating utilizing two-way reversible shape changes. Reversible shifting of the grating height was accomplished through partial melting and recrystallization of semicrystalline poly­(octylene adipate). The concurrent variations of the grating shape and diffraction intensity were monitored via atomic force microscopy and first order diffraction measurements, respectively. A maximum reversibility of the diffraction intensity of 36% was repeatable over multiple cycles. To that end, the reversible shape memory process is shown to broaden the functionality of SMP-based optical devices.