Hierarchically arranged stripes of photoswitchable liquid crystal polymers (LCPs) containing azobenzene moieties were conveniently crafted via a flow-enabled self-assembly (FESA). Interestingly, by subjecting a drop of LCP solution to dry in a restricted geometry comprising two nearly parallel plates with a stationary upper plate and a movable lower plate that programmably traveled in a "stop-and-move" manner during the FESA process, photoswitchable LCP stripes were yielded, displaying two modes of deposition, namely, periodic primary stripes of large dimensions and regularly spaced secondary stripes of small dimensions situated between adjacent primary stripes (i.e., forming hierarchical LCP stripes). Notably, these hierarchical azobenzene moieties-containing stripes demonstrated sequential photoinduced reversible phase transition (i.e., photoswitching) due to the thickness difference between primary and secondary stripes. A UV light-induced expansion effect was observed on the LCP stripes. Clearly, such rapid creation of hierarchical stripes by FESA represents a robust means of organizing polymers, nanoparticles, colloids, DNA, etc. into complex yet ordered patterns over a large area in a simple and controllable manner for potential use in surface relief grating, photoactuators, photoswitchable devices, antifake labels, etc.
- azo-containing liquid crystalline polymer
- flow-enabled self-assembly
- hierarchical structure
- photoexpansion effect
- photoinduced phase transition