A multi-stage single photochrome system for controlled photoswitching responses

Publication Date



The ability of molecular photoswitches to convert on/off responses into large macroscale property change is fundamental to light-responsive materials. However, moving beyond simple binary responses necessitates the introduction of new elements that control the chemistry of the photoswitching process at the molecular scale. To achieve this goal, we designed, synthesized and developed a single photochrome, based on a modified donor–acceptor Stenhouse adduct (DASA), capable of independently addressing multiple molecular states. The multi-stage photoswitch enables complex switching phenomena. To demonstrate this, we show spatial control of the transformation of a three-stage photoswitch by tuning the population of intermediates along the multi-step reaction pathway of the DASAs without interfering with either the first or final stage. This allows for a photonic three-stage logic gate where the secondary wavelength solely negates the input of the primary wavelength. These results provide a new strategy to move beyond traditional on/off binary photochromic systems and enable the design of future molecular logic systems.

Journal or Book Title

Nature Chemistry