Structurally Controlled Dynamics in Azobenzene-Based Supramolecular Self-Assemblies in Solid State
Poutanen, Mikko; Ikkala, Olli; Priimägi, Arri (2016-06-14)
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Light-responsive supramolecular self-assemblies exhibit interplay between order and dynamics of the self-assembling motifs, through which the thermal isomerization rate of azobenzene chromophores can be tuned by orders of magnitude. By using supramolecular complexes of 4-(4-alkylphenylazo)phenols hydrogen-bonded to poly(4-vinylpyridine) as model systems, we demonstrate that the thermal isomerization rate of the hydroxyazobenzene derivatives increases 5700-fold when the material undergoes a transformation from a disordered, low-azobenzene-concentration state to a high-concentration state exhibiting lamellar, smectic-like self-assembly. Drastically smaller thermal isomerization rates are observed in disordered structures. This allows us to attribute the change to a combination of increased number density of the hydroxyazobenzenes inducing plasticization, and cooperativity created by the chromophore-chromophore interactions through self-assembled molecular order and alignment. Our results pinpoint the importance of molecular self-assembly and intermolecular interactions in modifying the dynamics in supramolecular complexes in a controlled manner. We foresee this to be important in light-controlled dynamic materials.
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