Optical Switching and Image Storage by Means of Azobenzene Liquid-Crystal Films

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Science  30 Jun 1995:
Vol. 268, Issue 5219, pp. 1873-1875
DOI: 10.1126/science.268.5219.1873


Liquid crystals are promising materials for optical switching and image storage because of their high resolution and sensitivity. Azobenzene liquid crystals (LCs) have been developed, in which azobenzene moieties play roles as both mesogens and photosensitive chromophores. Azobenzene LC films showed a nematic phase in trans isomers and no LC phase in cis isomers. Trans-cis photoisomerization of azobenzene with a laser pulse resulted in a nematic-to-isotropic phase transition with a rapid optical response of 200 microseconds.