AIST has developed organic materials that melt from solid to liquid with only the irradiation of light, without heating, and can be restored to their original solid state. Unlike irreversible photosensitive resins, which cannot be restored to their original state after their state has changed once, the developed organic materials undergo state transitions by photoisomerization. These synthesized compounds have a molecular weight of about 1,100-1,700 and undergo photoisomerization even in crystals, so that they change from solid state to liquid state by light.

In order to study light-induced phase transition from a liquid crystal state (which could be considered as an intermediate state between solid and liquid) to a liquid state, two organic compounds were newly synthesized first. The structures of these organic compounds have azobenzene units joined in ring forms and moderately flexible side chains. As multiple azobenzene units within the molecule undergo photoisomerization, the form of the entire molecule changes greatly.

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