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Keywords:

  • azo polymers;
  • isomer/isomerization;
  • lithography;
  • nanotechnology;
  • periodic arrays;
  • photonics; surface-relief grating

ABSTRACT

Azopolymers comprise a unique materials platform, in which the photoisomerization reaction of azobenzene molecules can induce substantial material motions at molecular, mesoscopic, and even macroscopic length scales. In particular, amorphous azopolymer films can form stable surface relief patterns upon exposure to interfering light. This allows obtaining large-area periodic micro- and nanostructures in a remarkably simple way. Herein, recent progress in the development of azopolymer-based surface-patterning techniques for photonic applications is reviewed. Starting with a thin azopolymer layer, one can create a variety of photonic elements, such as diffraction gratings, microlens arrays, plasmonic sensors, antireflection coatings, and nanostructured light-polarization converters, either by using the azopolymer surface patterns themselves as optical elements or by utilizing them to microstructure or nanostructure other materials. Both of these domains are covered, with the aim of triggering further research in this fascinating field of science and technology that is far from being harnessed. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J. Polym. Sci., Part B: Polym. Phys. 2014, 52, 163–182