Photomechanical actuator device based on Disperse Red 1 doped poly(methyl methacrylate) optical fiber
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The photomechanical effect is the phenomenon involving any mechanical property change of a material induced by light exposure. Photomechanical devices can be built with superior performance over traditional devices and offer versatile control tactics.Previous experiments show that disperse red 1 azobenzene (DR1) doped poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA) optical fiber has a fast photomechanical response upon asymmetrical 633nm laser irradiation originating in photoisomerization of the dopants between the cis and trans forms, which causes an elongation of the polymer fiber. In this work, laser light of 355nm wavelength is used to investigate the dynamics of the trans to cis photoisomerization process, which should result in length contraction of the DR1 doped PMMA polymer fiber. A three-point-contact optically-actuated beam controlling tilt mount is made and used as the measurement apparatus to study this process. The photomechanical fiber is observed to elongate upon UV irradiation.Numerical simulations, which take into account the coupled effect between the laser-induced temperature increase and population density change of the dye molecules, show that contraction of the fiber due to direct trans-cis photoisomerization is overwhelmed by elongation due to the photo-thermally-stimulated cis-trans isomerization under high intensity. An ink coated entrance face of the fiber is placed in the measurement tilt mount and is found to exhibit contraction in the fast process under low intensity without sacrificing the good signal to noise ratio enjoyed in the high intensity case.