Mechanical Motion of Chiral Azobenzene Crystals with Twisting upon Photoirradiation

Takuya Taniguchi, Juri Fujisawa, Motoo Shiro, Hideko Koshima*, Toru Asahi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Citations (Scopus)


The photomechanical motion of chiral crystals of trans-azobenzene derivatives with an (S)- and (R)-phenylethylamide group was investigated and compared with a racemic crystal. Changes in the UV/Vis absorption spectra of the powdered crystals before and after UV irradiation were measured by using an optical waveguide spectrometer, showing that the lifetime of the cis-to-trans thermal back-isomerization of the chiral crystals was faster than that of the racemic crystals. Upon UV irradiation, a long plate-like chiral microcrystal bent away from the light source with a twisting motion. A square-like chiral microcrystal curled toward the light with some twisting. Reversible bending of a rod-like chiral microcrystal was repeatable over twenty-five cycles. In contrast, bending of a plate-like racemic microcrystal was small. A possible mechanism for the bending and twisting motion was discussed based on the optimized cis conformer determined by using calculations, showing that the bending motion with twisting is caused by elongation along the b axis and shrinkage along the a axis. Twist and bent: A plate-like chiral azobenzene crystal bent backward with twisting upon UV irradiation from the front. UV irradiation from the rear bent forward the crystal with twisting (see figure).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7950-7958
Number of pages9
JournalChemistry - A European Journal
Issue number23
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Jun 1


  • UV/Vis spectroscopy
  • azobenzenes
  • photoisomerization
  • photomechanical motion
  • twisting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Organic Chemistry


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