Polysilsesquioxane Nanowire Networks as an "artificial Solvent" for Reversible Operation of Photochromic Molecules

Zonglin Chu, Rafal Klajn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Efficient isomerization of photochromic molecules often requires conformational freedom and is typically not available under solvent-free conditions. Here, we report a general methodology allowing for reversible switching of such molecules on the surfaces of solid materials. Our method is based on dispersing photochromic compounds within polysilsesquioxane nanowire networks (PNNs), which can be fabricated as transparent, highly porous, micrometer-thick layers on various substrates. We found that azobenzene switching within the PNNs proceeded unusually fast compared with the same molecules in liquid solvents. Efficient isomerization of another photochromic system, spiropyran, from a colorless to a colored form was used to create reversible images in PNN-coated glass. The coloration reaction could be induced with sunlight and is of interest for developing "smart" windows.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7106-7111
Number of pages6
JournalNano letters
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 9 2019


  • Photochromism
  • azobenzene
  • conformational freedom
  • molecular switching
  • nanowires

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanical Engineering

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