Disperse and disordered: a mexylaminotriazine-substituted azobenzene derivative with superior glass and surface relief grating formation†
Materials containing azobenzene chromophores exhibit photomechanical behaviors, including the formation of surface relief gratings (SRG) caused by irradiation with two interfering laser beams. While azo-functionalized polymers were extensively studied, small molecules offer the advantage of being monodisperse species, which translates into easier synthesis and purification, as well as more uniform behavior. A drawback is that they tend to crystallize and do not always form high-quality thin films. Glass-forming compounds incorporating azobenzene were previously synthesized in several synthetic steps and in low yield. Herein, a Disperse Red 1 (DR1) functionalized with a mexylaminotriazine group is synthesized in 94% yield using a simple and straightforward procedure. It shows both the ability to form extremely stable glassy phases, and the ability to form SRG in the solid state with growth rates and grating heights closely similar to DR1-functionalized polymers.