Do Columns of Azobenzene Stars Disassemble under Light Illumination?
M Koch and M Saphiannikova and O Guskova, LANGMUIR, 35, 14659-14669 (2019).
The clustering properties of star-shaped molecules comprising three photochromic azobenzene-containing arms are investigated with specific focus on the influence of light on these structures. Previous experimental works report self-assembly of azobenzene stars in aqueous solution into long columnar clusters that are detectable using optical microscopy. These clusters appear to vanish under UV irradiation, which is known to induce trans-to-cis photoisomerization of the azobenzene groups. We have performed MD simulations, density functional theory, and density functional tight binding calculations to determine conformational properties and binding energies of these clusters. Our simulation data suggest that the binding strength of the clusters is large enough to prevent a breaking along their main axis. We conclude that very likely other mechanisms lead to the apparent disappearance of the clusters.
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