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Keywords:

  • atom transfer radical polymerization (ATRP);
  • azo polymers;
  • block copolymers;
  • liquid-crystalline polymers (LCP);
  • photoinduced anisotropy

Abstract

Diblock copolymers with polymethyl methacrylate and side chain liquid crystalline (LC) azopolymethacrylate blocks were synthesized by atom transfer radical polymerization (ATRP). The azobenzene content in these copolymers ranges from 52 to 7 wt %. For an azo content down to 20% they exhibit a LC behavior similar to that of the azo homopolymers. Thin films of these copolymers were characterized by transmission electron microscopy (TEM). A lamellar nanostructure was observed for azo content down to 20 wt %, while no structure is observed for the copolymer with a 7% azo content. The optical anisotropy induced in these films by illumination with linearly polarized 488 nm light was studied and the results compared with those of the azo homopolymer and of a random copolymer with a similar composition. The formation of azo aggregates inside the azo blocks is strongly reduced in going from the homopolymer to the copolymers. Photoinduced azo orientation perpendicular to the 488 nm light polarization was found in all the polymers. The orientational order parameter is very similar in the homopolymer and in the block copolymers with an azo content down to 20 wt %, while it is much lower in the random copolymer and in the 7 wt %. © 2006 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Polym Sci Part A: Polym Chem 45: 1899–1910, 2007