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Optical switching behavior of polymer-dispersed liquid crystal composite films with various novel azobenzene derivatives



Polymer-dispersed liquid crystal (PDLC) composite films were fabricated by thermal polymerization with E7 liquid crystal, monomers, and novel azobenzene derivatives synthesized in this study. To investigate the effects of azocompounds on the optical switching of PDLC films, a series of novel azobenzene derivatives of 4-alkyloxy-4′-methoxyazobenzene with carbon numbers of 3–6, chiral compounds of amyl-4-(4-hexyloxyphenylazo)benzoate, and bornyl-4-(4-hexyloxyphenylazo)benzoate were synthesized. The compounds synthesized in this investigation were identified using FTIR, NMR, and elemental analysis. The optical texture of the composite films was analyzed under crossed nicols with a polarizing microscope. The morphological observation of the solid polymer in the composite films was performed with a scanning electron microscope (SEM). The optical behavior of the composite films on UV irradiation and the effects of the curing time on the thermal stability of the composite films were investigated. Isomerization of the azobenzene derivatives due to UV irradiation was confirmed by a texture study and image recording method. © 2003 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Appl Polym Sci 91: 789–799, 2004