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Rapid Photoswitching of Low Molecular Weight Arylazoisoxazole Adhesives

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journal contribution
posted on 03.07.2020, 02:04 by Luuk Kortekaas, Julian Simke, Dustin W. Kurka, Bart Jan Ravoo
Adhesion is one of the most ubiquitous practical applications at surfaces. With today’s society calling increasingly for more reusable and “green” alternatives, the demand for readily reversible adhesives has triggered many studies into this field, in particular by incorporating molecular photoswitches into composite materials. Responsive polymers can act as reversible adhesives, but their employment brings about synthetic drawbacks and challenges in reproducibility and reusability. Here, our results demonstrate that even a low molecular weight photoswitch can serve as an on-demand adhesive when the intermolecular interactions are sufficiently strong. We show that readily accessible arylazoisoxazoles display a fast photoreversible solid-to-liquid phase transition and perform as excellent photoreversible adhesives, with a remarkable durability over 10 immediate reuse cycles without a loss in adhesive strength or an increase in the unprecedented response time. Furthermore, the versatility of photoreversible adhesion is shown at various surfaces ranging from polymeric materials to metals, demonstrating a wide field of potential application.