• azobenzene;
  • liquid crystals;
  • photochromism;
  • surface chemistry


In this paper the photocontrolled manipulation of solid materials on the surface of a liquid crystalline thin film is described. Three different types of films namely cholesteric liquid crystal (ChLC), compensated nematic liquid crystal (NLC) and nematic LC were used. The rotational and translational manipulation of the microscale solid object was induced by irradiation of light and mode of manipulation (either translational or rotational) was changed by changing the isomer of the azobenzene compound used to make the film. Rotational motion of the object was observed on the ChLC and compensated NLC films containing chirally pure azobenzene compound. The direction of rotational motion was controlled either by changing the optical isomer of the chiral azobenzene or by changing the irradiating light (from ultraviolet to visible). When racemic mixture of the chiral azobenzene compound was used, a translational motion of the object was observed. Even though the direction of the translational motion can be controlled by controlling irradiation position, more facile and precise manipulation of the objects was possible by spatially controlled irradiation of Ar+ laser and diode UV laser.