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Insight into a Fast-Phototuning Azobenzene Switch for Sustainably Tailoring the Foam Stability

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journal contribution
posted on 28.03.2017, 00:00 authored by Shaoyu Chen, Yanyan Zhang, Kunlin Chen, Yunjie Yin, Chaoxia Wang
A photoresponsive surfactant of 4-octoxy-4′-[(trimethylamino)­ethoxy]­azobenzene (OTAEAzo) has been synthesized for developing a fast-phototuning foam switch based on its high sensitivity, reversibility, and fatigue resistance of the photoisomerization capability. Ultraviolet (UV)-light irradiation for 1 s enabled conversion from the trans isomer to the cis configuration, while exposure to visible (Vis)-light for 3 min induced a cis-to-trans transformation, which maintains an excellent cycling stability for 20 cycles of photoisomerization. The photoisomerization speed depended on the concentration of OTAEAzo, and a lower concentration facilitated a faster photoisomerization process. Because of the low critical micelle concentration (CMC), OTAEAzo with a small dosage of 0.2 g·L–1 showed foamability, which accelerated the photoisomerization speed, enabling it to become a highly efficient switch. The surface activities of trans-OTAEAzo presented distinct differences from those of cis-OTAEAzo, resulting in the foam stabilization effects of trans-OTAEAzo (t1/2 = 2.58 min) and the destabilization effects of cis-OTAEAzo (t1/2 = 0.38 min). Moreover, the foam properties varied slightly in the phototuning cycles. OTAEAzo with low CMC presents high sensitivity and reversible photoisomerization capability, providing an environmental and sustainable approach for tailoring the foam stability.