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J Am Chem Soc. 2010 Oct 13;132(40):14172-8. doi: 10.1021/ja105356w.

A diarylethene cocrystal that converts light into mechanical work.

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Department of Chemistry and Research Center for Smart Molecules, Rikkyo University, Nishi-Ikebukuro 3-34-1, Toshima-ku, Tokyo 171-8501, Japan.


The photomechancial effect of a rectangular plate two-component cocrystal composed of a photochromic diarylethene derivative, 1,2-bis(2-methyl-5-(1-naphthyl)-3-thienyl)perfluorocyclopentene (1o), and perfluoronaphthalene (FN) has been examined. The crystal of 1o·FN with the size of 1-5 mm in length exhibits reversible bending motion upon alternate irradiation with ultraviolet (UV) and visible light. The reversible bending could be repeated over 250 times. In situ X-ray crystallographic analysis revealed that the deformation of the crystal is due to the elongation of the b-axis of the unit cell, which corresponds to the long axis of the plate crystal, induced by the shape change of component diarylethene molecules upon photocyclization. The bending motion was observed even at 4.7 K, and dynamic measurement of the bending proved that the anisotropic expansion of the crystal takes place in the microsecond time scale at the low temperature. Molecular crystal cantilevers made of 1o·FN can lift metal balls, the weight of which is 200-600 times heavier than the weight of the crystal, upon UV irradiation. The maximum stress generated by UV irradiation was estimated to be 44 MPa, which is 100 times larger than that of muscles (∼0.3 MPa) and comparable to that of piezoelectric crystals, such as lead zirconate titanate (PZT) (∼50 MPa).

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