Photon control of liquid motion on reversibly photoresponsive surfaces

Dongqing Yang, Marcin Piech, Nelson S. Bell, Devens Gust, Sean Vail, Antonio Garcia, John Schneider, Choong Do Park, Mark Hayes, S. T. Picraux

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

83 Scopus citations


The movement of a liquid droplet on a flat surface functionalized with a photochromic azobenzene may be driven by the irradiation of spatially distinct areas of the drop with different UV and visible light fluxes to create a gradient in the surface tension. In order to better understand and control this phenomenon, we have measured the wetting characteristics of these surfaces for a variety of liquids after UV and visible light irradiation. The results are used to approximate the components of the azobenzene surface energy under UV and visible light using the van Oss-Chaudhury-Good equation. These components, in combination with liquid parameters, allow one to estimate the strength of the surface interaction as given by the advancing contact angle for various liquids. The azobenzene monolayers were formed on smooth air-oxidized Si surfaces through 3-aminopropylmethyldiethoxysilane linkages. The experimental advancing and receding contact angles were determined following azobenzene photoisomerization under visible and ultraviolet (UV) light. Reversible light-induced advancing contact-angle changes ranging from 8 to 16° were observed. A large reversible change in contact angle by photoswitching of 12,4° was achieved for water. The millimeter-scale transport of 5 μL droplets of certain liquids was achieved by creating a spatial gradient in visible/UV light across the droplets. A criterion for light-induced motion of droplets is shown to be consistent with the response of a variety of liquids. The type of light-driven fluid movement observed could have applications in microfluidic devices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10864-10872
Number of pages9
Issue number21
StatePublished - Oct 9 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Spectroscopy
  • Electrochemistry


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