Enhanced Deformation of Azobenzene-Modified Liquid Crystal Polymers under Dual Wavelength Exposure: A Photophysical Model

Ling Liu, Patrick R. Onck*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
245 Downloads (Pure)


Azobenzene-embedded liquid crystal polymers can undergo mechanical deformation in response to ultraviolet (UV) light. The natural rodlike trans state azobenzene absorbs UV light and isomerizes to a bentlike cis state, which disturbs the order of the polymer network, leading to an anisotropic deformation. The current consensus is that the magnitude of the photoinduced deformation is related to the statistical building up of molecules in the cis state. However, a recent experimental study [Liu and Broer, Nat. Commun. 6 8334 (2015).] shows that a drastic (fourfold) increase of the photoinduced deformation can be generated by exposing the samples simultaneously to 365 nm (UV) and 455 nm (visible) light. To elucidate the physical mechanism that drives this increase, we develop a two-light attenuation model and an optomechanical constitutive relation that not only accounts for the statistical accumulation of cis azobenzenes, but also for the dynamic trans-cis-trans oscillatory isomerization process. Our experimentally calibrated model predicts that the optimal single-wavelength exposure is 395 nm light, a pronounced shift towards the visible spectrum. In addition, we identify a range of optimal combinations of twowavelength lights that generate a favorable response for a given amount of injected energy. Our model provides mechanistic insight into the different (multi) wavelength exposures used in experiments and, at the same time, opens new avenues towards enhanced, multiwavelength optomechanical behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Article number057801
Number of pages6
JournalPhysical Review Letters
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 4-Aug-2017



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