From Event: SPIE Organic Photonics + Electronics, 2017
In recent years, the ability to pattern large areas at the micro- and nano-scale with stimuli-responsive materials has opened the opportunity to engineer surface structures and trigger peculiar properties such as complex optical functionalities or surface properties by laser-matter interactions. The use of light-sensitive materials, such as azobenzene compounds, can open the opportunity to active manipulate in terms of morphology, physical and mechanical properties a pre-patterned architectures, which are intrinsically static once fabricated.
We employ azopolymers, in which the rapid and reversible photoisomerization reaction of azobenzene molecules can actuate mass transport phenomena typically parallel to the light polarization. The azopolymeric film is patterned by soft-imprinting as an array of micro-holes showing a well-defined isotropic round pores. Upon a linearly polarized illumination (365 nm, 150 W/cm2), we observe a deformation of the initial holes along the polarization direction, in such a way that the circular pores are transformed into long closed slits. A rotation of the polarization by 90° triggers a reconfiguration of the pristine round shape, with a good degree of control of the photo-induced pore reshaping. Due to the polarized-directionality of the photo-manipulation we demonstrate the possibility to tune the pristine morphology and properties along specific directions, providing a smart engineered platform with different reshaped micro-patterns. The light-induced contraction and expansion reshaping strategy of a porous polymeric structures shows exciting potential for a number of applications including microfluidics, lithography and tissue engineering. Tuning cells behavior in response to material manipulation cues is a promising goal in biology
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