Azobenzene-based materials have found applications in a wide variety of systems as a convenient method to induce photo-responsive behaviour through facile trans (E) to cis (Z) isomerization. Of particular interest are condensed matter systems, for which diverse assemblies have been applied in myriad ways to produce optical materials, controllable assemblies and functional surfaces. However, isomerization of azobenzene faces unique challenges in condensed systems when compared with dilute states (molecular solution and gas phase) where isomerization is best understood. In the present work, we explore recent studies looking at these challenges experienced in condensed matter phases, some solutions proposed to improve isomerization efficiency, and further give these issues wider context for the future development of light-responsive soft-matter systems.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors would like to thank AINSE Limited for providing financial assistance (Award: PGRA). This research was supported by an Australian Government Research Training Program (RTP) Scholarship. Finally, the authors would also like to acknowledge that the COVID-19 lock-down period was a strong influence for the initiation of writing this review and hope this finds the readers in good health.
© 2021 The Royal Society of Chemistry.