Photoisomerization of azobenzene in polymer matrices is a powerful method to convert photon energy into mechanical work. While most previous studies have focused on incorporating azobenzene within amorphous or liquid crystalline materials, the limited extents of molecular ordering and correspondingly modest enthalpy changes upon switching in such systems has limited the achievable energy densities. In this work, we introduce a semicrystalline main-chain poly(azobenzene), where photoisomerization is capable of reversibly triggering melting and recrystallization under essentially isothermal conditions. These materials can be drawn into aligned fibers, yielding optically driven two-way shape memory actuators capable of reversible bending.
Journal or Book Title
ACS Macro Letters