Kinetics of light-induced ordering and deformation in LC azobenzene-containing materials
Azobenzene-containing smart materials are able to transform the energy of light into directional mechanical stress. We develop a theory of time-dependent light-induced ordering and deformation in azobenzene materials starting from the kinetic equations of photoisomerization. The liquid crystalline (LC) interactions between rod-like trans-isomers are taken into account. Angular selectivity of the photoisomerization known as an “angular hole burning” or the Weigert effect leads to the light-induced ordering and deformation of the azobenzene materials. The time evolution of ordering and deformation is found as a function of intensity of light depending on the opto-mechanical characteristics of the materials, such as probabilities of the optical excitation of trans- and cis-isomers, angular jump during the single isomerization event, viscosity of the materials, strength of the LC interactions in both the isotropic and LC materials, and the angular distribution of chromophores in polymer chains. Established structural–property relationships are in agreement with a number of experiments and can be used for the construction of light-controllable smart materials for practical applications.