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Publication - Professor Stephen Mann

    Light-induced dynamic shaping and self-division of multipodal polyelectrolyte-surfactant microarchitectures via azobenzene photomechanics

    Citation

    Martin, N, Sharma, KP, Harniman, RL, Richardson, RM, Hutchings, RJ, Alibhai, D, Li, M & Mann, S, 2017, ‘Light-induced dynamic shaping and self-division of multipodal polyelectrolyte-surfactant microarchitectures via azobenzene photomechanics’. Scientific Reports, vol 7.

    Abstract

    Light-induced shape transformations represent a fundamental step towards the emergence of adaptive materials exhibiting photomechanical behaviours. Although a range of covalent azobenzene-based photoactive materials has been demonstrated, the use of dynamic photoisomerization in mesostructured soft solids involving non-covalent co-assembly has received little attention. Here we prepare discrete micrometre-sized hydrated particles of a hexagonally ordered polyelectrolyte-surfactant mesophase based on the electrostatically induced co-assembly of poly(sodium acrylate) (PAA) and trans-azobenzene trimethylammonium bromide (trans-azoTAB), and demonstrate unusual non-equilibrium substrate-mediated shape transformations to complex multipodal microarchitectures under continuous blue light. The microparticles spontaneously sequester molecular dyes, functional enzymes and oligonucleotides, and undergo self-division when transformed to the cis state under UV irradiation. Our results illustrate that weak bonding interactions in polyelectrolyte-azobenzene surfactant mesophases can be exploited for photo-induced long-range molecular motion, and highlight how dynamic shape transformations and autonomous division can be activated by spatially confining azobenzene photomechanics in condensed microparticulate materials.

    Full details in the University publications repository