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Optically responsive switches

Understanding and improving photochromic properties
PhD ceremony:Mr T.C. Pijper
When:May 11, 2015
Supervisors:prof. dr. B.L. (Ben L.) Feringa, prof. dr. ir. B.J. (Bart) van Wees, prof. dr. W.R. (Wesley) Browne
Where:Academy building RUG
Faculty:Science and Engineering
Optically responsive switches

Photochromic molecular switches are molecules that can be switched back and forth between two or more isomers by irradiating with light whereby these isomers have different colors. The phenomenon of photochromism has received much interest from researchers because of its potential applications. This is because, in addition to a color change, photochromic switching takes place with a change in various other molecular characteristics such as shape, conductivity, redox potential, and polarity. This creates many possible ways in which the switch can interact with its environment and allows for the design of large molecular systems that can be influenced by means of irradiation with light.

The main topics described in this thesis are:

- the photochemical behavior of an asymmetric dithienylethene molecular switch in solution;

- the surface immobilization of symmetric and asymmetric dithienylethene switches, which is found to result in a large change in the photochemical behavior of the asymmetric switches;

- the synthesis and surface immobilization of a dithienylethene switch with a tripodal anchoring group that is designed to limit interactions between the switch and the surface;

- the use of a chiral dithienylethene switch as a dopant in a liquid crystal, which  leads to the formation of a chiral (helical) phase with a pitch that can be influenced with light;

- the investigation of a computational method for studying the thermally driven isomerization of sterically overcrowded alkenes and second-generation molecular motors.