3D printable light-responsive polymers
New photo-curable polymers for 3D printing are provided, exhibiting mechanical light-responsivity upon laser irradiation. Azobenzene moieties are employed both as dyes in the 3D printing process and as active groups providing the desired light responsivity. The incorporation of azobenzene units into polymeric matrices allows a reversible and controllable change of the Young's modulus of a crosslinked micrometric structure. Depending on the temperature of operation, laser irradiation induces either a decrease (photo-softening) or an increase (photo-hardening) of the Young's modulus. Such a behaviour can be spatially controlled in order to locally modify the mechanical features of 3D printed objects such as microcantilevers.