Shedding light on azopolymer brush dynamics by fluorescence correlation spectroscopy†
Understanding the response to illumination at a molecular level as well as characterising polymer brush dynamics are key features that guide the engineering of new light-stimuli responsive materials. Here, we report on the use of a confocal microscopy technique that was exploited to discern how a single molecular event such as the photoinduced isomerisation of azobenzene can affect an entire polymeric material at a macroscopic level leading to photodriven mass-migration. For this reason, a set of polymer brushes, containing azobenzene (Disperse Red 1, DR) on the side chains of poly(methacrylic acid), was synthesised and the influence of DR on the polymer brush dynamics was investigated for the first time by Fluorescence Correlation Spectroscopy (FCS). Briefly, two dynamics were observed, a short one coming from the isomerisation of DR and a long one related to the brush main chain. Interestingly, photoinduced polymer aggregation in the confocal volume was observed.